From January to October of last year, the surge in exports allowed Spain to gain more than two points of market share compared to the rest of the large economies of the Eurozone (Germany, France and Italy) in relation to the levels prior to the outbreak of the the Covid pandemic, based on the figures collected by Eurostat, the Community Statistics Office. In a context of slowdown in world trade due to the energy and inflationary shock and the consequences of the war in Ukraine, the Spanish economy is better resisting the onslaught of the crisis and manages to strengthen its competitive capacity abroad.
Sources from the Ministry of Economic Affairs explain to this newspaper that, on the one hand, financing capacity abroad is maintained by consolidating the current account surplus, which “already has a structural nature.” The current account balance, which measures income and payments abroad for the exchange of merchandise, services, income and transfers, collides with green numbers of 4,400 million euros between January and October, which represents a decrease of 55.1% in relation to the data that the Bank of Spain recorded for the same period of the previous year. Despite this setback, the national economy closed a full decade with a current account surplus.
Not only is this something unprecedented to date, but it comes in the middle of a period that includes the biggest recession in peacetime (due to Covid), the highest inflation in almost four decades and the fastest rate hike since the creation of the euro (until carrying out the price of money at 3% in February). The same sources stress that, at the same time, tourism is not only recovering the levels prior to the health crisis, but is also increasing its share with respect to the main controllers, as evidenced by the evolution of overnight stays in non-residents -also according to Eurostat figures-.
This same pattern is repeated in the exports of goods, which are not only resisting better, but are also gaining market share, especially in sectors such as chemical products, computer equipment and electronics, clothing and footwear or the food, among others. Other sources consulted attribute this gain in competitiveness to the fact that inflation in Spain was lower than its European peers (thanks to the Iberian mechanism and the pull of renewables); since unions and businessmen from exporting companies have managed to reach an implicit rent agreement that also helped others to contain their costs, among other factors.
With the data available up to November of the declared Customs trade, sales of Spanish merchandise abroad increased by 23.6% in relation to the same period of the previous year, reaching a record of 357,111 million euros. In the first eleven months of the year, imports rose by 35.8% to 420,714 million euros, which is also a historic level for our country. The growth of exports is higher and this allows the deficit to be contained in November, which is reduced by half compared to October to its lowest monthly value since September 2021.
The situation of German exporters
It is expected that along with private consumption, exports will become one of the engines that will allow the national economy to consolidate positively despite growing uncertainty. The most advantageous situation in the face of the energy shock is being key, as can be seen in the fact that the other three large economies of the euro have been losing market share over total merchandise trade at a faster rate as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Its greater starting dependence on Russian hydrocarbons has cost Germany dearly.
Among the large companies in the first European economy that are gas intensive, an important group has been forced to stop production or drastically reduce it over the last few months: it has happened in its chemical industry, in the steel industry, but also in automobile components or ceramics. Inflation has dealt a severe blow to a sector for which the problems in the supply chains have not been fully resolved, not even with the Chinese reopening.