Juan Antonio Labat | General Manager of FEIQUE


The Business Federation of the Spanish Chemical Industry (FEIQUE) represents the Spanish chemical industry, a sector made up of more than 3,000 companies. What are the reasons behind FEIQUE's decision to be an ‘institutional partner' of PharmaProcess?

The pharmaceutical industry plays a very big role in the Spanish chemical industry as a whole. Indeed, Pharmaceutical Specialities (CNAE 21) is the chemical subsector that makes the biggest contribution to the sector's overall turnover, accounting for 22%. This explains our support for PharmaProcess.

Despite its short history, PharmaProcess is on the way to becoming a real meeting point and platform for debate and knowledge transfer, as demonstrated not only by FEIQUE'S support but also that of other major associations connected with the sector and the leading companies in this industry. Above all, our support helps to consolidate and shine a spotlight on the event, because we realize that these kinds of initiatives have a positive and direct impact on the visibility of the pharmaceutical industry, with the added bonus that it will end up becoming an essential event for companies and researchers.


What is the current state of health of the Spanish chemical industry? And what about the pharmaceutical industry?

The chemical industry has gone through a very positive phase in the last ten years despite the difficult situation of the economy in general and industry in particular. Compared to sectors that have been unable to overcome the crisis – in some cases, production has dropped by up to 80% since the beginning of the crisis in 2007 – we might say, in general terms, that the chemical sector is currently posting some of the best results in its history.

According to figures from the Business Federation of the Spanish Chemical Industry (FEIQUE), chemicals were the second biggest industrial sector in the Spanish economy in 2014, generating 12.4% of the Gross Industrial Product and providing over 540,000 direct, indirect and induced jobs. Its turnover in 2014 reached 56,386 million euros, representing growth of 13.4% since 2007, the year before the crisis started. Furthermore, it is the second biggest exporter in the Spanish economy: exports have increased by 40% since 2007. And it is also a sector that provides high quality jobs: 95% of its employees are on indefinite contracts compared to the industrial average of 85% and the national average of 77%.

There is no doubt at all that the pharmaceutical sector has helped to bolster the solid results of the chemical industry. Indeed, it is one of the private sectors to have generated the most jobs in Spain this year, with an increase of 16% compared to the end of 2014, and its turnover has increased by almost 7.5% in the last twelve months.


We want to consolidate PharmaProcess Forum


The sector is known for its firm commitment to innovation and internationalization. Are these the keys to its success?

Absolutely; the strength the sector has shown throughout the crisis has rested, to a large extent, on its export potential and its constant efforts to innovate. The figures I mentioned earlier underline this fact. But these results stem from the conviction that if the industry wants to enlarge its production capacity in a highly competitive global market, it must move out of its comfort zone and explore new niche markets, both within and outside our geographical sphere; markets that are calling for innovative and increasingly sustainable solutions to their current challenges and needs.

Last year, a report by the consultancy firm Prognos on the overall forecast for economic sectors up to 2030 concluded that the chemical sector will be the manufacturing industry that achieves the biggest increase over this period, with annual production growth of 4.5%. The study highlights the fact that the sector's vocation for innovation and presence in every sphere of production activity are the main factors that will drive this growth in the next fifteen years. For these predictions to materialize, our companies will need to continue along the path we have been following in recent years, which has made us the sector that devotes the largest amount of resources to R&D&I, accounting for 20% of investments and 24% of researchers in Spanish industry as a whole.


And finally, would you say that the Spanish chemical industry is one of the main driving forces behind the country's economic recovery?

The chemical industry is a strategic sector for the Spanish economy. The boost it gives to the productive sector, its capacity to compete in the international arena, its potential to find innovative and sustainable solutions to the current and future challenges facing society, and its commitment to generating stable, high quality jobs have all contributed, to a considerable extent, to strengthening Spain's competitiveness. A sector such as this, with the ability to create wealth and drive the economy, plays a fundamental role in the solidity of a country.