Pandemic economy triggers cross-border cooperation

Correspondent in Lisbon



The Galician biotechnology company Zendal is the one designated to put into circulation two vaccines against coronavirus: the Spanish one, sponsored by the Higher Council for Scientific Research, and the one entrusted to it by the North American Novavax with the aim of joining the international market in which AstraZeneca, Pfizer or Moderna are already found.

This double expectation has catapulted the firm with headquarters in Porriño (Pontevedra), which has seen its business multiply thanks to the sale of such popular products as the cleaning alcohol called Cooper, whose 300-milliliter container can be found in supermarkets from all over Spain at a price that ranges between 1.25 and two euros.

But now those facilities are starting to get small and, when the serial production of both vaccines really begins, will be insufficient to house the entire infrastructure necessary to continue growing and capture more and more market share. Much more if we take into account that both assignments are going to overlap in time and that the current limits placed the owners of the company before the commitment of wanting to move forward and expand, but be constrained by the limit they have with the current dimensions.

So expansion plans are already underway and have prioritized geographic proximity over other considerations. Thus, the new Zendal plant will be built in the Portuguese town of Paredes de Coura, about 43 kilometers southwest of Porriño.

We are, therefore, facing a paradigmatic case of what is happening in Galicia from the point of view of business dynamics. If we enhance the neighborhood, why not reinvest in a contiguous province in the region or even in the north of Zamora? Well, for a very simple reason: the tax advantages that Portugal offers are at the base of the extension of this trend.

It is the same reason that explains why technological investments prefer to settle in Portuguese lands rather than deal with the bureaucratic labyrinth woven by the Spanish Administration.

Now Zendal trusts its hopes of making a commercial leap through its subsidiary Biofabri, manufacturer of the batches that will be used in clinical trials to combat Covid-19.

Group sales totaled 44.6 million euros in 2019, with a profit margin of 6.7 million. The goal is, therefore, not to allow the coronavirus health crisis to take away the firm, rather the opposite.

This operation is articulated as the faithful portrait of the cross-border cooperation and Iberian businesses gain prominence between Portugal and Spain in the midst of the current serious context, although the entire volume suffers from the fall in economic activity. But transacting with your next door neighbor saves costs and proves to be a working option.

This was demonstrated by the Galician company Aludec, based in Vigo and manufacturer of components for interior and exterior decoration of automobiles, which has extended its tentacles to nearby Viana do Castelo, on the other side of the border, and has even begun construction. of its new plant in the Lanheses park.

In Extremadura, cross-border ties are also strengthened. For example, the Portuguese company Barbosa & Almeida (dedicated to the production and sale of glass containers for the food and beverage industry) distributed an extra 2,000 to 4,000 euros among the workers at its plant in Villafranca de Barros (Extremadura).

Business ties continue to grow. Thus, Nzytech is a centralized medical laboratory in Lisbon and an expert in producing viral RNA tests to diagnose patients suffering from coronavirus, with results in just 25 minutes … and one of its current clients is Getafe Hospital, which has been able to verify its solvency .

As for the Spanish firm Miya, it is in charge of the “efficient” management of water in Portugal through its subsidiary Indaqua, located in Santa María da Feira, 33 kilometers south of Porto. It is precisely one of the municipalities most affected by the coronavirus during the first months, so that its function to disinfect the streets and public spaces has been key. They also carry out their work in the surrounding towns of Vila do Conde, Sao Joao da Madeira and Santo Tirso.

It is clear that Galicia takes the lead in this type of business and that the north of Portugal registers a high concentration of Spanish companies: up to 32 in the industrial estates of Vila Nova da Cerveira, Monçao, Viana do Castelo, Paredes de Coura or Valença do Minho.

“Faced with financial and management difficulties, companies (whether Portuguese or Spanish) tend to be more cooperative to alleviate the negative effects of the pandemic,” Enrique Santos, president of the Luso-Spanish Chamber of Commerce, assured ABC.

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