Based on the average exchange rate for 2020, Spain uses the euro which appreciated by 2% against the US dollar since 2016 and rose by 3.1% from 2019 to 2020. The stronger EU currency in 2020 made Spain’s exports paid for in weaker US dollars relatively more expensive for international buyers.
Spain is 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 latest available country-specific data shows that 70.3% of products exported from Spain were bought by importers in: France (16.3% of the global total), Germany (11.4%), Italy (7.7%), Portugal (7.5%), United Kingdom (6.6%), United States (4.5%), Netherlands (3.4%), China (3.1%), Belgium (2.8%), Morocco (2.7%), Poland (2.4%) and Switzerland (1.9%).
From a continental perspective, 71.9% of Spain exports by value were delivered to Europe countries while 11% were sold to importers in Asia. Spain shipped another 6.5% worth of goods to North America. Smaller percentages went to Africa (5.9%), Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean (3.2%) then Oceania led by Australia (0.7%).
Given Spain’s population of 46.5 million people, its total $307 billion in 2020 exports translates to roughly $6,600 for every resident in the west European nation.
Spain’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Spanish global shipments during 2020. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Spain.
- Vehicles: US$50.3 billion (16.4% of total exports)
- Machinery including computers: $22.3 billion (7.2%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $17.6 billion (5.7%)
- Mineral fuels including oil: $14.4 billion (4.7%)
- Pharmaceuticals: $14 billion (4.6%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $11.9 billion (3.9%)
- Fruits, nuts: $11.2 billion (3.7%)
- Meat: $9.8 billion (3.2%)
- Vegetables: $8.1 billion (2.6%)
- Articles of iron or steel: $7.4 billion (2.4%)
Spain’s top 10 exports accounted for 54.4% of the overall value of its global shipments.
Meat was the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 23% since 2019. In second place for improving export sales was fruits and nuts which rose 13.3%. Spain’s shipments of pharmaceuticals posted the third-fastest gain in value up by 9.6%.
The leading decliner among Spain’s top 10 export categories was mineral fuels including oil which fell -29% year over year.
Note that the results listed above are at the categorized two-digit Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) code level. For a more granular view of exported goods at the four-digit HTS code level, see the section Searchable List of Spain’s Most Valuable Export Products further down below.
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 represent 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.
- Vehicles: US$13.7 billion (Up by 48.4% since 2019)
- Meat: $8.5 billion (Up by 31.5%)
- Fruits, nuts: $7.5 billion (Up by 16.1%)
- Vegetables: $6.5 billion (Up by 10.6%)
- Ceramic products: $3.4 billion (Up by 9%)
- Beverages, spirits, vinegar: $3.2 billion (Up by 13.4%)
- Articles of iron or steel: $3 billion (Up by 4.3%)
- Vegetable/fruit/nut preparations: $2.3 billion (Up by 8.7%)
- Aircraft, spacecraft: $2 billion (Down by -35.9%)
- Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: $1.4 billion (Down by -24.8%)
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.
Spain incurred an overall -$18 billion trade deficit during 2020. That negative trade balance represents a -53% decrease from the -$38.3 billion in red ink one year earlier.
Below are exports from Spain that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits during 2020. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Spain’s goods trail Spanish importer spending on foreign products.
- Mineral fuels including oil: -US$16.7 billion (Down by -43.1% since 2019)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$12.5 billion (Up by 11.5%)
- Machinery including computers: -$10.5 billion (Down by -4.8%)
- Organic chemicals: -$7.2 billion (Up by 0.7%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: -$5.7 billion (Up by 5.5%)
- Pharmaceuticals: -$3.5 billion (Up by 19.6%)
- Fish: -$3 billion (Down by -9%)
- Miscellaneous textiles, worn clothing: -$2.7 billion (Up by 362.6%)
- Cereals: -$2.6 billion (Down by -15.7%)
- Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: -$2.4 billion (Down by -21.3%)
Spain has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits for crude oil, petroleum gases and coal under the mineral fuels including oil category.
These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate Spain’s competitive disadvantages in the international market for mineral fuels-related products, but also represent key opportunities for Spain to improve its position in the global economy through focused innovations in cleaner alternative energy sources.
Spanish Export Companies
Twenty-seven corporations rank among Forbes Global 2000. Below is a sample of the major Spanish companies that Forbes included.
- Abertis (other transportation)
- Ferrovial (other transportation)
- Grifols (biotech products)
- Repsol YPF (oil, gas)
- Telefónica (telecommunications services)
According to global trade intelligence firm Zepol, the following smaller companies are also examples of Spanish export companies.
- Mahou Sa (malt beer, wine, vodka)
- Nemak Spain (internal combustion engines, vehicle parts and accessories)
- Repsol (oil)
- Telefónica (telecommunications equipment)
Searchable List of Spain’s Most Valuable Export Products
At the more granular four-digit HTS code level, the following searchable table displays 100 of the most in-demand goods shipped from Spain during 2020. Shown beside each product label is its total export value then the percentage increase or decrease since 2019.
|Rank||Spain's Export Product||2020 Value (US$)||Change|
|2||Medication mixes in dosage||$10,243,970,000||+10%|
|3||Processed petroleum oils||$9,618,105,000||-38.1%|
|7||Fresh or dried citrus fruit||$4,174,479,000||+16.6%|
|8||Unglazed ceramic flags, tiles, cubes||$3,371,787,000||+6.9%|
|10||Unglazed ceramic flags, tiles, cubes||$3,066,111,000||-0.02%|
|12||Women's clothing (not knit or crochet)||$2,994,405,000||-18.1%|
|13||Miscellaneous fresh/chilled vegetables||$2,520,311,000||+9.4%|
|14||Blood fractions (including antisera)||$2,287,944,000||-0.6%|
|15||Rubber tires (new)||$2,211,326,000||-7.4%|
|17||Miscellaneous fruits (fresh)||$1,962,250,000||+1.9%|
|18||Miscellaneous iron and steel structures||$1,919,095,000||+0.5%|
|21||Jerseys, pullovers (knit or crochet)||$1,577,311,000||-4%|
|22||Perfumes, toilet waters||$1,566,264,000||-31%|
|25||Railway/tramway coaches, vans, trucks||$1,421,558,000||-10.9%|
|27||Taps, valves, similar appliances||$1,386,604,000||-3.8%|
|30||Plastic packing goods, lids, caps||$1,377,970,000||+4.2%|
|31||Apricots, cherries, peaches, nectarines, plums||$1,331,707,000||+11.2%|
|33||Phone system devices||$1,319,788,000||+9.4%|
|34||Bread, biscuits, cakes, pastries||$1,301,712,000||+8.1%|
|35||Plastic plates, sheets, film, tape, strips||$1,179,165,000||-0.8%|
|36||Iron or non-alloy steel angles, shapes, sections||$1,173,496,000||-21.5%|
|37||Miscellaneous iron or steel items||$1,122,930,000||-6.1%|
|38||Electrical converters/power units||$1,121,475,000||+8.2%|
|39||Beauty/makeup/skin care preparations||$1,120,973,000||-6.7%|
|40||Other prepared/preserved vegetables (non-frozen)||$1,086,249,000||-0.5%|
|41||T-shirts, vests (knit or crochet)||$1,074,407,000||-21.6%|
|42||Fish, caviar (preserved/prepared)||$1,066,772,000||+20.2%|
|43||Fresh or chilled tomatoes||$1,061,737,000||+2.9%|
|45||Other organic cleaning preparations||$1,049,832,000||+9.5%|
|46||Cases, handbags, wallets||$1,029,951,000||-10.8%|
|47||Refined copper, unwrought alloys||$1,029,758,000||+17.7%|
|48||Electric water heaters, hair dryers||$1,015,741,000||+13.2%|
|51||Miscellaneous plastic items||$998,298,000||-1.7%|
|52||Table games, bowling equipment||$971,480,000||+4.3%|
|53||Electrical lighting/signaling equpment, defrosters||$964,417,000||-7.4%|
|54||Pigments, enamels, glazes||$962,244,000||-1.9%|
|55||Electric generating sets, converters||$962,095,000||-7%|
|56||Miscellaneous animal feed preparations||$961,328,000||+20.9%|
|58||Flat-rolled stainless steel items||$949,935,000||-9.3%|
|59||Electric storage batteries||$941,115,000||+0.3%|
|61||Fruit and vegetable juices||$899,614,000||+12.5%|
|63||Melons, watermelons, papayas||$879,364,000||+5.9%|
|65||Transmission shafts, gears, clutches||$861,453,000||-17.1%|
|66||Lettuce (fresh, chilled)||$856,719,000||-2.8%|
|67||Centrifuges, filters and purifiers||$846,355,000||-3.4%|
|68||Women's clothing (knit or crochet)||$845,269,000||-5.2%|
|71||Women's coats, jackets (not knit or crochet)||$832,050,000||-11.4%|
|73||Red meat offal||$825,145,000||+44.3%|
|75||Other food preparations||$814,735,000||+16.4%|
|76||Dishwashing, clean/dry/fill machines||$794,276,000||-1.7%|
|77||Men's suits, trousers (not knit or crochet)||$793,300,000||-35.4%|
|78||Computers, optical readers||$784,135,000||+5.3%|
|79||Lamps, lighting, illuminated signs||$783,605,000||-11.4%|
|80||Whole fish (frozen)||$780,149,000||-6.4%|
|81||Copper ores, concentrates||$764,312,000||-46.7%|
|83||Liquid pumps and elevators||$758,439,000||-9.9%|
|84||Cellulose fiber paper||$755,094,000||-6.5%|
|85||Plastic tubes, pipes, fittings||$752,552,000||+6%|
|88||Fresh or chilled cucumbers||$742,946,000||+9.6%|
|90||Flat-rolled iron or non-alloy steel products (plated/coated)||$735,171,000||-4.3%|
|91||Alcohol (including spirits, liqueurs)||$728,860,000||-18.7%|
|92||Piston engine parts||$725,441,000||-16.4%|
|93||Scents used for beverage or industrial manufacturing||$715,764,000||+12%|
|95||Electric circuit parts, fuses, switches||$707,814,000||-6.6%|
|96||Fresh or chilled beef||$700,140,000||+5.9%|
|98||Electrical/optical circuit boards, panels||$688,848,000||-4.9%|
|99||Electro-medical equip (e.g. xrays)||$678,730,000||+7.9%|
|100||Concrete/artificial stone items||$674,254,000||-9.2%|
These 100 exported goods were worth a subtotal of US$183.4 billion or roughly three-fifths (59.7%) by value for all products exported from Spain during 2020.
In macroeconomic terms, Spain’s total exported goods represent 17.3% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2020 ($1.773 trillion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 17.3% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2020 compares to 17.2% one year earlier. This seems to indicate a relatively increasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Spain’s total economic performance, albeit based on a very short timeframe.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Spain’s unemployment rate was 16.13% at January 21, 2021, up from an average 13.941% for 2020 according to the International Monetary Fund.
Spain’s capital city is Madrid.
See also Spain’s Top 10 Imports and Spain’s Top Trading Partners
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Country Profiles, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on February 28, 2021
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on February 28, 2021
IMPORTERS.com The Online Market for G20 Importers, Spain Import Export Directory. Accessed on February 28, 2021
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on February 28, 2021
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on February 28, 2021
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on February 28, 2021
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on February 28, 2021
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Spain. Accessed on February 28, 2021
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on February 28, 2021
Zepol’s company summary highlights by country. Accessed on February 28, 2021