Spain’s Top 10 Exports

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Spain shipped US$287.8 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2016, up by 29% since 2009 when the Great Recession kicked in and up by 3.5% from 2015 to 2016.

Spain’s top 10 exports accounted for 55.9% of the overall value of its global shipments.

Based on statistics from the International Monetary Fund’s World Economic Outlook Database, Spain’s total Gross Domestic Product amounted to $1.690 trillion in 2016. Therefore, exports accounted for about 17% of total Spanish economic output.

From a continental perspective, well over two-thirds (69.9%) of Spanish exports by value are delivered to other European countries while 11.2% are sold to Asian importers. Spain ships another 6.5% worth of goods to North American clients with 6.2% going to Africa.

Given Spain’s population of 48.6 million people, its total $287.8 billion in 2016 exports translates to roughly $5,900 for every resident in that country.

Spain’s unemployment rate was 18.6% as of January 2017 down from 20.9% in December 2015, 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 2016. 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 number one export is cars followed by automotive parts and accessories, refined petroleum oils and prophylactic or therapeutic drugs and medicines.

  1. Vehicles: US$55.3 billion (19.2% of total exports)
  2. Machinery including computers: $22.2 billion (7.7%)
  3. Electrical machinery, equipment: $16.1 billion (5.6%)
  4. Mineral fuels including oil: $14.7 billion (5.1%)
  5. Plastics, plastic articles: $11.1 billion (3.8%)
  6. Pharmaceuticals: $11 billion (3.8%)
  7. Fruits, nuts: $9.3 billion (3.2%)
  8. Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): $7.6 billion (2.6%)
  9. Articles of iron or steel: $6.8 billion (2.4%)
  10. Vegetables: $6.7 billion (2.3%)

Non-knit and uncrocheted clothing were the fastest-growing among the top 10 export categories, up 103% for the 7-year period starting in 2009.

In second place for improving export sales were mineral fuels including oil which gained 44.9%. Exported plastics posted a 40% uptick.

The category posting the most modest gain was pharmaceuticals, up 7.1%.


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$12.7 billion (Up by 16.7% since 2009)
  2. Fruits, nuts: $6.4 billion (Up by 29.5%)
  3. Vegetables: $5.4 billion (Up by 21.7%)
  4. Meat: $4.5 billion (Up by 92.2%)
  5. Ceramic products: $2.9 billion (Up by 33.6%)
  6. Articles of iron or steel: $2.6 billion (Up by 208.1%)
  7. Beverages, spirits, vinegar: $2.3 billion (Up by 48.6%)
  8. Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: $2.2 billion (Up by 59%)
  9. Vegetable/fruit/nut preparations: $1.8 billion (Up by 16.8%)
  10. Copper: $1.3 billion (Up by 86.8%)

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.


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.

Overall, Spain incurred a -$21.8 billion trade deficit during 2016. That represents a -66.2% reduction from the -$64.4 billion deficit in 2009.

  1. Mineral fuels including oil: -US$18.1 billion (Down by -51.5% since 2009)
  2. Machinery including computers: -$9.2 billion (Down by -9.6%)
  3. Electrical machinery, equipment: -$9 billion (Down by -18.1%)
  4. Optical, technical, medical apparatus: -$5.1 billion (Up by 10.8%)
  5. Organic chemicals: -$4.8 billion (Up by 13.2%)
  6. Pharmaceuticals: -$3.3 billion (Down by -39.8%)
  7. Fish: -$3.2 billion (Up by 15.8%)
  8. Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: -$2.7 billion (Down by -4.3%)
  9. Cereals: -$2.6 billion (Up by 6.7%)
  10. Ores, slag, ash: -$2 billion (Down by -14.8%)

Spain has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits for crude oil, petroleum gases and coal.

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 for 2015. Below is a sample of the major Spanish companies that Forbes included:

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

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

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

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 23, 2017

The World Factbook, Country Profiles, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on March 23, 2017

Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on March 23, 2017

Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on March 23, 2017

Wikipedia, List of Companies of Spain. Accessed on March 23, 2017

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