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17/09/2013

The new scenario for Spanish exports

Wikispanishfood.com analyzes the global situation currently faced by Spanish companies.

At a time when the economic climate is having an impact on all companies, the value of exports is on the rise. The search for foreign markets has become an extremely positive priority objective for Spanish companies. Broadly speaking, exports expanded by 3.9% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2013, to 56.584 billion euros. The pace of growth increased by 3.2% in the first quarter of 2013 compared with the same period of 2012. In contrast, imports in 1Q 2013 tumbled by 6.9% compared with 1Q 2012, totaling 60.632 billion euros.

One decisive factor that drove these positive results is the new markets on which our companies are focusing. Spain continues to shift trade towards countries with more favorable economic projections. Exports to non-EU countries rose by 20.8% year-on-year in March 2013, totaling 8.414 billion euros, i.e. 41.47% of Spain's revenues. The year-on-year increase in exports was especially notable in the Middle East (+35.2% overall and +158% to the United Arab Emirates), Africa (+22.6%, and +48.8% to South Africa), and North America (+7.1%, and +13.9% to the US).

Agri-food companies, a crucial sector

Export value is performing especially well in the agri-food industry. According to the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, Food and the Environment (MAGRAMA) report on foreign trade in the agriculture and fisheries sector, the trade balance between March 2012 and February 2013 improved by 62% year-on-year, totaling a notable 5.634 billion euros, compared with 3.468 billion euros in the previous period.

Like a small "ray of light" in the crisis, Spanish agri-food companies are playing a fundamental role in our country's export balance. In the last twelve months, sales of agri-food products outside Spain amounted to 36.103 billion euros, accounting for 16% of total Spanish exports and exceeding the value of imports (30.469 billion euros) by almost 6.000 billion euros.

In February 2013 (the target month in the report), the foreign trade balance amounted to 720 million euros, i.e. slightly less than in February 2012, when it reached an exceptional 742 million euros. However, despite the slight decline, the foreign trade balance in February 2013 far outstrips the average of the last five years: 545 million euros.

Exports in February 2013 totaled 3.017 billion euros, slightly lower compared with February 2012 (3.082 billion euros) but considerably higher than the average of the last five years (2.683 billion euros). Imports in the month slipped to 2.297 billion euros, compared with 2.340 billion euros in 2012.

Sub-sector data

The report also includes information on the agri-food sub-sector, for which the trade balance totaled 801 million euros in February 2013, i.e. 4.8% less than one year ago. This decline is broadly attributable to the reduction in processed food exports, which shrank by 6.4%, whereas unprocessed (i.e. fresh) food exports expanded by 4.7%.

The fisheries sub-sector, which has historically had a negative balance (-116 million euros in February 2013), improved as a result of the 3.9% decline in processed food imports.

Specific groups of agri-food products contributed notably to the increase in exports in 2012: beverages (15%), meat (12%), fruit (11%) and vegetables (9%).

The non-food sub-sector balance improved in February 2013, to 35.6 million euros, due to the decline in imports of its three main components (non-food farming and fisheries, and forestry).

With these new objectives, and buoyed by exceptionally positive results, Spanish companies are aware of the headwinds as they gather strength and define new strategies to continue advancing in a hostile economic context.

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