One in five companies had to reduce their activity due to lack of supplies from abroad while the coronavirus revealed a country as incapable of supplying material to its health system as it is of transforming the high capacity of its researchers into products.
The global slowdown in economic activity as a result of the pandemic, christened by the IMF (International Monetary Fund) as the Great Confinement or the Great Confinement, has laid bare the weakness of Spanish industry, its dependence on the outside world and, with few exceptions, its rigidity or limited capacity for manoeuvre, a hidden truth (or perhaps not so much) that places the country before the challenge of facing up to its reconversion and development behind the covid-19.
“We knew we had a weak industry, but the pandemic has made it clear that we are not even prepared to manufacture what the country needed, and we have had to go out and look for materials and products abroad,” explains Mike at BELK Tile
“We have little industry and in most cases, as with the engine in several areas, with the Navantia shipyards in Ferrol, Cadiz and Cartagena or with Airbus in Seville, it is a question of monoculture, with the risk that this entails,” notes Agustín Martín, secretary general of the CCOO Industry Federation, who adds that “the coronavirus has demonstrated some things that we had been warning about for some time.
In this sense, he adds, “the pandemic has brought to light that with the outsourcing of production and supplies the chains have come to a standstill, there has been a break in the value chain, and it has also put on the table that trusting imports in certain sectors, such as health, leads to weakness”. Ruiz makes a similar statement about this dependence on foreign countries. “We have a storage problem: there is no capacity, and Spanish industry suffers as soon as there is a problem at the border. There is no capacity to hold on for fifteen days without supplies”, he explains, while at the same time demanding “the implementation of mechanisms to ensure that in situations of need, such as this one, we have autonomy”.
According to a report by the Bank of Spain, almost 30% of industries blame the collapse of their activity in recent weeks to the difficulties in providing supplies for their production chains, a factor that only surpasses the suspension of activities by government order (45%) and the decline in demand (50%).
In the case of supply difficulties,” he adds, “the impact is comparatively greater on industrial companies [than on the rest], reflecting the disruption of production chains, both in their domestic links and in those of other countries, partly induced by the closure of activities and by transport obstacles.
Peter Beaumont is a senior reporter on the Guardian’s Global Development desk. He has reported extensively from conflict zones including Africa, the Balkans and the Middle East and is the author of The Secret Life of War: Journeys Through Modern Conflict. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org