Spain’s Top 10 Exports

Spain's flag


Located on western Europe’s Iberian Peninsula and bordered by Portugal to its northwest, France and Andorra to its northeast and whose southern region features Europe’s only shared border with an African nation namely Morocco, the Kingdom of Spain shipped US$320.1 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2017.

That dollar amount reflects a 3% uptick since 2013 and a 13.6% increase from 2016 to 2017.

Based on estimates from the Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook, Spain’s exported goods plus services represent 34.2% of total Spanish economic output or Gross Domestic Product. The analysis below focuses on exported products only.

From a continental perspective, well over two-thirds (69.4%) of Spanish exports by value were delivered to fellow European countries while 11.1% were sold to Asian importers. Spain shipped another 6.6% worth of goods to North American clients with 6.2% going to Africa and 3.9% sent to Latin America (excluding Mexico) and the Caribbean.

Given Spain’s population of 49 million people, its total $320.1 billion in 2017 exports translates to roughly $6,500 for every resident in that country.

Spain’s unemployment rate was 16.55% as of December 2017 down from 18.6% in January of the same year, according to Trading Economics.

Spain’s Top 10 Exports

Top 10

The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Spanish global shipments during 2017. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Spain.

At the more granular four-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, Spain’s most valuable exports are cars followed by refined petroleum oils, automotive parts or accessories, drugs and medicines, trucks then olive oil.

  1. Vehicles: US$57 billion (17.8% of total exports)
  2. Machinery including computers: $24.4 billion (7.6%)
  3. Mineral fuels including oil: $22.3 billion (7%)
  4. Electrical machinery, equipment: $17.1 billion (5.3%)
  5. Plastics, plastic articles: $12.4 billion (3.9%)
  6. Pharmaceuticals: $11.6 billion (3.6%)
  7. Fruits, nuts: $9.6 billion (3%)
  8. Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): $8.6 billion (2.7%)
  9. Articles of iron or steel: $7.5 billion (2.3%)
  10. Iron, steel: $7.3 billion (2.3%)

Spain’s top 10 exports accounted for 55.5% of the overall value of its global shipments.

Mineral fuels including oil was the fastest-growing among the top 10 export categories up 102.3% from 2016 to 2017, led by higher international revenues from refined petroleum oils.

A distant second for Spain’s improving export sales was the iron and steel category which gained 18.9%. Unknit and non-crocheted clothing and accessories posted a 15% uptick, just ahead of the 14.9% increase for plastics and items made from plastic.

The category posting Spain’s most modest gain was vehicles, up 5.7%.


The following types of Spanish product shipments represent positive net exports or a trade balance surplus. Investopedia defines net exports as the value of a country’s total exports minus the value of its total imports.

In a nutshell, net exports is the amount by which foreign spending on a home country’s goods or services exceeds or lags the home country’s spending on foreign goods or services.

  1. Vehicles: US$11.1 billion (Down by -14.8% since 2016)
  2. Fruits, nuts: $6.6 billion (Up by 8%)
  3. Vegetables: $5.5 billion (Up by 5.6%)
  4. Meat: $4.9 billion (Up by 12.2%)
  5. Ceramic products: $3 billion (Up by 6.8%)
  6. Articles of iron or steel: $2.9 billion (Up by 10.6%)
  7. Beverages, spirits, vinegar: $2.6 billion (Up by 18.4%)
  8. Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: $2.3 billion (Up by 9.1%)
  9. Vegetable/fruit/nut preparations: $2 billion (Up by 11.3%)
  10. Copper: $1.5 billion (Up by 11.3%)

Spain has highly positive net exports particularly for cars and also trucks. In turn, these cashflows indicate Spain’s strong competitive advantages under the vehicles product category.


Overall, Spain incurred a -$30.3 billion trade deficit during 2017. That negative trade balance represents a 45.7% increase from the -$20.8 billion in red ink that Spain sustained one year earlier.

Below are exports from Spain that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Spain’s goods trail Spanish importer spending on foreign products.

  1. Mineral fuels including oil: -US$23.4 billion (Up by 7.9% since 2016)
  2. Machinery including computers: -$10.2 billion (Up by 17.6%)
  3. Electrical machinery, equipment: -$9.5 billion (Up by 7.3%)
  4. Organic chemicals: -$5.4 billion (Up by 16%)
  5. Optical, technical, medical apparatus: -$5.2 billion (Up by 5.9%)
  6. Fish: -$3.4 billion (Up by 7.9%)
  7. Pharmaceuticals: -$2.8 billion (Down by -8.9%)
  8. Cereals: -$2.8 billion (Up by 11.5%)
  9. Iron, steel: -$2.6 billion (Up by 117.2%)
  10. Ores, slag, ash: -$2.6 billion (Up by 26.3%)

Spain has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits for crude oil, petroleum gases and coal under the mineral fuels including oil category.

These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate Spain’s competitive disadvantages in the international market for mineral fuels-related products, but also represent key opportunities for Spain to improve its position in the global economy through focused innovations in cleaner alternative energy sources.


Spanish Export Companies

Twenty-seven corporations rank among Forbes Global 2000. Below is a sample of the major Spanish companies that Forbes included:

  • Abertis (other transportation)
  • Ferrovial (other transportation)
  • Grifols (biotech products)
  • Repsol YPF (oil, gas)
  • Telefónica (telecommunications services)

According to global trade intelligence firm Zepol, the following smaller companies are also examples of Spanish export companies:

  • Mahou Sa (malt beer, wine, vodka)
  • Nemak Spain (internal combustion engines, vehicle parts and accessories)
  • Repsol (oil)
  • Telefónica (telecommunications equipment)

Spain’s capital city is Madrid.

Please note that the results listed above are at the 2-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level.

See also Spain’s Top 10 Imports, Spain’s Top Trading Partners, Highest Value Spanish Import Products and Highest Value Spanish Export Products

Research Sources:
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on March 24, 2018

The World Factbook, Country Profiles, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on March 24, 2018

Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on March 24, 2018

Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on March 24, 2018

Wikipedia, List of Companies of Spain. Accessed on March 24, 2018

Forbes 2015 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on March 29, 2016

Zepol’s company summary highlights by country. Accessed on March 29, 2016