MADRID – The number of new Spanish companies that have increased their activities in the overseas market grew more than 12 percent in 2011, and they exhibited a growing interest in emerging markets and areas such as the so-called BRICS nations – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – Foreign Trade Institute, or ICEX, figures show.
Almost 123,000 Spanish firms listed themselves last year as exporters, according to government data, while another aspect of the economic crisis is the destruction of companies that were already established with operations abroad and have had to shut down.
The ICEX figures confirm that in 2011 there were 37,250 companies that exported regularly (that is, for four consecutive years), 3.9 percent fewer than in 2010.
In 2008, the number of Spanish regularly-exporting companies was still growing at 1.3 percent, but since the crisis worsened in 2009 the number of Spanish firms sending products abroad has been declining.
According to a report by the Banco de Espańa analyzing the outlook for Spanish firms with operations overseas, the largest of them – the most efficient and those who have invested abroad and have a better financial position – are the ones that are best weathering the crisis.
Up through July 2012, Spain’s total exports amounted to 129.57 billion euros ($168.2 billion), 3.7 percent more than during the same period in 2011, when sales abroad grew by 15.4 percent over 2010.
Foreign trade sources emphasize the increase in sales abroad by the so-called “pymes,” or small and medium firms.
According to ICEX, there has been strong growth in the number of individualized services provided to companies at its offices abroad, and the number of consultation sessions doubled in the first half of this year.
Many Spanish companies have become interested in selling their products and services in emerging markets.
Their activities in the BRICS nations have doubled, rising from 2.2 percent of their business to 4.5 percent.
On the contrary, the proportion of exports to the Eurozone has fallen 10 percent since 2003, despite the fact that it is Spain’s main market.
In the first months of this year, exports to Asia rose by about 19 percent, above all sales to China and Japan, which over the past seven months bought 2.16 billion euros ($2.8 billion) and 1.26 billion euros ($1.64 billion) worth of Spanish goods, respectively.
Latin America continues to be the preferred market for Spanish companies, above all for investment purposes.
Chile and Brazil in 2011 were in fourth and fifth position on the global index of the value of Spanish investments abroad prepared by the Exporters and Investors Club.
Exports to Latin America grew by 15.6 percent through July and amounted to 7.93 billion euros ($10.29 billion).
But France, Germany and Italy continue to be the three top export markets for Spanish companies, followed by Portugal, the United Kingdom and the United States, a situation that has not changed since 2007.
The most internationalized Spanish firms are those in the industrial technology, chemical, auxiliary
industrial and fashion sectors.
According to the latest figures on foreign trade, Spanish investments abroad – in production operations only – rose in 2010 to 356.3 billion euros ($462.5 billion), compared with 313.5 billion euros ($406.9 billion) in 2009.
In the OECD countries, Spanish investment totaled 250.4 billion euros ($325 billion), 20.5 billion euros ($26.6 billion) more than the previous year, while Spanish investment in the European Union amounted to 160.2 billion euros ($207.9 billion).
The greatest increases in Spanish investment came in Latin America, moving from a total of 93.3 billion euros ($121.1 billion) in 2009 to 116.1 billion euros ($150.7 billion) in 2010. In addition, investments in Asia and Oceania increased by 45.3 percent.
UNCTAD’s “World Investment Report 2011” places Spain in 23rd place on the list of countries investing abroad.