Monthly foreign trade report

Trade deficit falls 57% in the first quarter of the year

News - 2023.5.18

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Spanish exports of goods rose by 14.6% from January to March 2023 compared to the same period the previous year, reaching just over €102.68 billion, an all-time high. Imports also rose by 4% to €109.26 billion, another all-time high. These figures are shown in the latest foreign trade report of the State Secretariat for Trade with customs-declared trade data.

For the Minister for Industry, Trade and Tourism, Héctor Gómez, "the figures for the first quarter of the year show very positive data for our foreign sector, which is the indisputable engine of economic growth and job creation in our country".

As a result, the trade deficit fell by 57% in the first quarter of the year to just short of €6.58 billion, which was lower than the almost €15.42 billion registered in the same period of 2022. The coverage rate stood at 94% (85.3% in January-March 2022, provisional data).

The non-energy balance showed a surplus of €1.64 billion (deficit of just over €4.36 billion accumulated up to March 2022), and the energy deficit fell to almost €8.22 billion, compared to a deficit of €11.05 billion in 2022.

The YoY growth of Spanish exports between January and March (14.6%) was higher than that recorded in the EU-27 (8.2%) and the eurozone (7.7%). The figure is also higher than in France (9.5%), Germany (7.8%) and Italy (9.8%). Outside the EU, exports from the UK (13.9 %), the USA (6.5%), China (8.4%) and Japan (4.8%) also grew.

All sectors contributed positively to the annual rate of change of exports, with the capital goods, automobile, chemical products and food, beverages and tobacco sectors standing out. "A normalisation of trade by sector can be observed in the wake of the pandemic and the energy shock, with a clear recovery of the automobile sector and a reduction in the weight of energy products," explained the minister.

Exports to the EU (63.9% of the total) grew by 15.4% YoY in the first quarter of the year. Sales to the eurozone (55.9% of the total) increased by 14.3%, and those to the rest of the EU (8.0% of the total) rose 24.2%.

Sales to third countries (36.1% of the total) grew 13.1% in this period, with increases in exports to Oceania (49.3%), Latin America (33.4%), North America (19%), Asia excluding the Middle East (8.2%) and Africa (2.8%).

The regional governments with the highest growth in exports were the Balearic Islands, La Rioja and the Principality of Asturias.

Data for March

In March, Spanish merchandise exports increased by 17.7% more than the same month in 2022, to just over €38.93 billion, a record high for any month. For their part, imports also rose by 3.6% YoY to €39.09 billion, also an all-time high for a month of March.

As a result, equilibrium in the trade balanced was almost achieved in March 2023, since a deficit of €157.7 billion was recorded, which was lower than the deficit of €4.64 billion the same month of 2022. The coverage rate (import/export ratio) stood at 99.6%, 11.9 percentage points more than in March 2022 (87.7%).

As Minister Héctor Gómez explained, "not only has the energy deficit been moderated, but a significant non-energy surplus of almost €2.17 billion was achieved in March. You have to go right back to 2013 to find a larger non-energy surplus".

For its part, exports to the EU in March 2023 represented 62.9% of the total (64.2% in March 2022), increasing by 15.4%. Exports to the eurozone increased by 14.8% and those to the rest of the EU were up 20.1%. Of the main partners, the increases in sales to Germany (22.8%), Italy (21.7%), France (16.4%) and Portugal (8%) stand out.

Last, exports to third countries (non-EU) accounted for 37.1% of the total, up 21.7% YoY, with sales to the UK increasing by 21.3%.

Non official translation