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Barcelona, May 10 (EFE).- Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said here Friday that carmakers operating in the Iberian nation are planning additional investments totaling roughly 1 billion euros ($1.3 billion).
Rajoy made the announcement during a lunch for automobile company executives ahead of next week's Barcelona International Motor Show. The president of the Catalonia autonomous community, Artur Mas, also was in attendance at the gathering.
The new outlays will be made shortly and will provide a further kick to a sector that has already benefited from investments in recent months, the premier said.
A total of "5 billion euros in just over a year have been pledged by the automobile industry, which is making Spain the spearhead" of its investment strategy for the European market.
Rajoy said multinational automakers "have found in Spain the most competitive, accessible and reliable environment for consolidating themselves at the vanguard of the global industry."
"In difficult times, as these are, it is healthy to value the good that we have," he said, alluding to the country's recession and sky-high unemployment rate.
The prime minister noted that 12 percent of Spain's workforce is employed directly or indirectly in the auto sector and that most of the jobs are high-skilled.
Rajoy thanked the companies for their "wholehearted commitment" to Spain and stressed that the sector is a strategic pillar of the country's future.
He said the auto sector is benefiting from a labor-law overhaul enacted in 2012. That measure, which sparked widespread protests, makes it cheaper to hire and fire workers.