Spanish merchandise exports reach €383.7 billion, the second best year in history

News - 2024.2.19

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Spanish exports of goods reached almost €383.7 billion in the accumulated period from January to December 2023, the second best year in the historical series. This figure is close to the target of reaching €400 billion in exports by 2027 set out in the Strategy for the Internationalisation of the Spanish Economy 2017-2027.

After the historical maximum in 2022, merchandise exports close 2023 with a slight fall of 1.4% compared to 2022 (-5.5 billion), milder than that of the EU27 as a whole (-2.5%) and the euro area (-3.3%).

The second half of 2023 was marked by the complex international context and, in particular, by the economic slowdown in our main trading partners. Non-energy exports, however, rose by 0.7% (+2.5 billion euros) for the year as a whole, partially offsetting the 20.6% drop in the energy segment (€-7.9 billion).

The trade deficit in 2023 was reduced by more than 40% and fell to €40.56 billion in 2023, 2.8% of GDP (compared to a deficit of over 68.1 billion in the same period of 2022, 5.1% of GDP). These figures are given in the latest Foreign Trade Report of the State Secretariat for Trade with customs-declared trade data.

The trade deficit reached €40.5 billion in 2023, reducing by some €31 billion compared to 2022, mainly due to the maintenance of non-energy exports and the decline in imports of energy products (mainly gas), which has allowed a reduction of the energy deficit by almost half.

This means that the coverage rate (import/export ratio) between exports and imports stood at 90.4%, 5.3 percentage points more than recorded in January to December 2022 (85.1%).

"The foreign sector has played a fundamental role in the recovery of the Spanish economy after the pandemic and has shown great resilience in the face of external shocks such as the war in Ukraine and the conflict in Gaza," says Xiana Méndez, Secretary of State for Trade. "The evolution of the foreign goods sector in Spain is outperforming that of the EU27 and the euro area as a whole, which shows the competitiveness of Spanish companies, with a strong position in international markets".

The sectors that contributed positively to the annual rate of change of exports in 2023 came from the automotive industry (contribution of 2.4 points), capital assets (contribution of 1.8 points) and food, drink and tobacco (contribution of 0.8 points). These are the most dynamic sectors, which gained more weight and reached annual highs with clear surpluses.

The EU continues to be the main destination for Spanish exports, accounting for 62.7% of the total. A total of 37.3% of exports corresponded to third destinations, with notable increases in Spanish exports to Oceania (8.7%), Latin America (8.1%) and the Rest of Europe (4.6%).

In the last year, exports to many of our main European markets, such as Germany, Italy and Poland, have reached record figures. Exports to other markets such as the UK, Morocco and Turkey have also increased.

A strong export base that generates employment

A key factor has been the ability of internationalised Spanish companies to maintain trade relations during the years of greatest uncertainty. In fact, the export base has grown steadily in recent years and will reach around 44,000 companies exporting on a regular basis by 2023.

In the last year, regular exporters, i.e. those who have exported in the reference year and in the three preceding years, have grown by 1.7, accumulating an increase of 27% since 2010.

This continuous growth of the export base reflects a cultural change in Spanish companies, which increasingly perceive foreign markets as a natural target.

Foreign trade also generates employment, as it is estimated that 25% of jobs in Spain are associated with the export of goods and services, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Non official translation

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