Imports of goods in Spain increased last year more strongly than expected thanks to the impulse of energy purchases, the substitution of national production by imports in certain branches and the orientation of production towards content imported content products. However, this demand for energy already fell in the fourth quarter in real terms and the same trend “maintained” at the beginning of the current year.
It is one of the conclusions of the Bank of Spain (BdE) article entitled ‘The recent evolution of imports of goods in light of some conditions’, which details that said imports maintained a “significant growth” rate in 2022 , up to 5.5%. According to the entity, this level is “above what would be derived from its traditional determinants”, which are final demand and price competitiveness.
The report highlights that one of the reasons for this increase is “the dynamism” of energy purchases abroad, which increased by 23.1% in real terms, in a context of market tensions due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. . A situation in which “storage strategies were promoted in the face of possible supply and re-export problems to other countries of the European Union.”
Another of the reasons indicated by the body headed by Pablo Hernández de Cos is the substitution of domestic production by imports in the most energy-intensive branches, given the loss of competitiveness vis-à-vis countries outside the euro area less dependent on imported energy. They detail that in the particular case of Spain, “the rapid transfer of wholesale energy prices to retailers during the first months of the war” must also be taken into account.
The third cause of the increase in imports over the past year is “the orientation of production towards products with a higher imported content”, whose demand would have increased due to changes in habits associated with the pandemic and the recovery of mobility. In this sense, the Bank of Spain gives as an example pharmaceutical, computer and telecommunications products, as well as others related to the textile sector.
The BdE sees it as foreseeable that the demand for some goods with a high imported content will continue, especially those related to information technology and telecommunications, given the trend towards digitization of the productive fabric and the expansion of the technology sector. In any case, in a long-term horizon, the evolution of imports will be conditioned by future developments in the configuration of global value chains.
In particular, the strategies aimed at the energy transition and strategic autonomy could lead to a certain regionalization of value chains, characterized by greater diversification and proximity to external suppliers, a greater appreciation of security in the supply chain, and an emphasis on efficiency. .