The economic indicators of Spain were down in 2008: employment, company formation, investment… The export indicator fell too in 2009. Nevertheless, in 2010 the exterior sector started to recover and since that time exports have not stopped growing, allowing Spain to mitigate the impact of the crisis.
According to figures from the Foreign Trade Institute (ICEX), Spanish exports of goods went from a 15% dip in 2009, to a 15% growth in 2010. One of the reasons for this recovery was the effort made by Spanish companies to compensate for the downturn of the Spanish economy. Whereas in 2018 goods’ exports had a value of 189,228 million Euros, in 2009 they fell to 159,889 million, recovering in 2010 (186,780 million) and in 2011 (215,230 million), according to ICEX data. In 2018, sales abroad attained a record of 285,024 million Euros (24% of GDP). This data, along with the good behaviour of service exports, has allowed the checking of the tendency of the Spanish economy to accumulate deficit on the balance of trade during times of expansion.
During this recovery stage, the Spanish economy has maintained a positive balance on trade which reflects, on the one hand, the greater foreign competitiveness of Spanish companies and, on the other, less energy dependency, which fell by eight points between 2008 and 2016.
The Spanish pattern of goods’ exports is highly specialised: worthy of particular note are exports of cars and automotive components owing to the production plants that the main world manufacturers have in Spain. Furthermore, it is worth mentioning the exports of food goods. The wine industry is worth highlighting as Spain exports 22.1 million hectolitres of wine per year, making it the largest exporter on the planet, ahead of France, Italy and the United States. Spain is one of the main winemaking powers in the world, possessing 13% of the world surface area dedicated to vineyards, putting Spain ahead of China, France, Italy and Turkey according to the Spanish Observatory of Wine Markets.
During the years of crisis, Spain also managed to diversify its exports from a geographic perspective, strengthening its presence on markets outside the European Union. Furthermore, the number of regular exporters, in other words, of companies that have exported for four consecutive years, increased by 30% between 2006 and 2016, according to “Overview of Spain” published in November 2018 by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
In addition to those figures pertaining to the export of goods, it is worth mentioning the increase in service exports in addition to the traditional weight of the tourism sector, it is worth noting the strong growth in exports with high added value associated with the activity of large Spanish multinational companies.
Basically, the Spanish economy has taken advantage of the economic crisis to redefine its presence abroad and make the most of the opportunities afforded by its geographic position and modern infrastructures in terms of access to markets.
Spain has been able to make up the ground it lost to some of its traditional partners for decades, positioning itself on new markets. During these years, Spanish companies have once again shown their adaptability and surprising innovation, contributing to the strengthening of the Spanish economy. Today, the country has state-of-the-art multinationals in highly competitive sectors, advanced infrastructures and skilled, productive labour.
In terms of foreign investment, in recent years Spain has been one of the main beneficiaries in the world. In 2017 it was ranked 19th as an investment beneficiary (19 billion dollars). In terms of accumulated direct foreign investment stock, Spain was ranked as the fifteenth receiving economy (644 billion dollars), according to the United Nations’ Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).
From a list of 190 countries in the world, Spain is ranked 30th due to the ease of doing business. This is the conclusion reached by the report Doing Business by the Word Bank. This comes from the fact that Spain has 11,880 subsidiaries of foreign companies, according to the latest data provided by the INE for 2016. Foreign multinationals provide employment to 1.4 million people, 7% of the working population, according to a report drafted by Multinationals for the Spanish Brand.
- Foreign Trade Institute (ICEX).
- “Overview of Spain” published in November 2018 by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)
- United Nations’ Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).
- Report Doing Business by teh World Bank.
- Report Multinationals for the Spanish Brand.