Based on the average exchange rate for 2021, Spain uses the euro which appreciated by 5% against the US dollar since 2017 and strengthened by 3.9% from 2020 to 2021. The stronger European Union currency in 2021 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.
Spain’s 5 most valuable exported products are cars, processed petroleum oils, medication mixes in dosage, automobile parts or accessories, and blood fractions including antisera. Collectively, that leading quintet of Spanish exports accounted for about a fifth (20.5%) of the overall value of exports from Spain in 2021.
The latest available country-specific data shows that 71.4% of products exported from Spain were bought by importers in: France (16.1% of the global total), Germany (10.3%), Italy (8.5%), Portugal (8.2%), United Kingdom (5.8%), United States of America (4.5%), Belgium (also 4.5%), Netherlands (3.7%), Morocco (2.9%), mainland China (2.7%), Poland (2.4%) and Switzerland (1.8%).
From a continental perspective, 73.2% of Spain exports by value were delivered to fellow European 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 (5.8%), Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean (3.3%), and Oceania led by Australia (0.6%).
Given Spain’s population of 47.2 million people, its total $384.5 billion in 2021 exports translates to roughly $8,200 for every resident in the west European nation. That per-capita dollar amount is lower than the $6,600 average for 2021.
Spain’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Spanish global shipments during 2021. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Spain.
- Vehicles: US$54.9 billion (14.3% of total exports)
- Machinery including computers: $26.3 billion (6.8%)
- Mineral fuels including oil: $24.9 billion (6.5%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $20.5 billion (5.3%)
- Pharmaceuticals: $20.3 billion (5.3%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $16.2 billion (4.2%)
- Fruits, nuts: $12.5 billion (3.3%)
- Iron, steel: $10.8 billion (2.8%)
- Meat: $10.6 billion (2.8%)
- Articles of iron or steel: $9.4 billion (2.4%)
Spain’s top 10 exports accounted for over half (53.7%) of the overall value of its global shipments.
Mineral fuels including oil was the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 100% since 2020.
In second place for improving export sales was iron and steel which rose 69.6%.
Spain’s shipments of pharmaceuticals posted the third-fastest gain in value up by 47.5% year over year.
The most modest increase among Spain’s top 10 export categories was meat thanks to its 9.8% increase.
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.
Spain’s Major Trade Surpluses by Product Category
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$14.6 billion (Up by 4.9% since 2020)
- Meat: $8.9 billion (Up by 6.1%)
- Fruits, nuts: $8.4 billion (Up by 16.3%)
- Vegetables: $7.5 billion (Up by 19.3%)
- Ceramic products: $4.4 billion (Up by 32.4%)
- Beverages, spirits, vinegar: $3.8 billion (Up by 19.6%)
- Articles of iron or steel: $3.4 billion (Up by 12.3%)
- Vegetable/fruit/nut preparations: $2.5 billion (Up by 10.8%)
- Perfumes, cosmetics: $1.9 billion (Up by 42.7%)
- Aircraft, spacecraft: $1.9 billion (Down by -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’s Major Trade Deficits by Product Category
Spain incurred an overall -$18 billion trade deficit during 2021. 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 2021. 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$30 billion (Up by 62.6% since 2020)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$15.3 billion (Up by 28.3%)
- Machinery including computers: -$12.6 billion (Up by 31.8%)
- Organic chemicals: -$8.5 billion (Up by 22.3%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: -$6.4 billion (Up by 17%)
- Pharmaceuticals: -$4.5 billion (Up by 40.5%)
- Fish: -$3.5 billion (Up by 17.9%)
- Ores, slag, ash: -$3.5 billion (Up by 58.7%)
- Cereals: -$3.4 billion (Up by 37.9%)
- Iron, steel: -$2.7 billion (Up by 76.9%)
Spain has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits for crude oil, petroleum gases and coal under the mineral fuels including oil category.
These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate Spain’s competitive disadvantages in the international market for mineral fuels-related products, but also represent key opportunities for Spain to improve its position in the global economy through focused innovations in cleaner alternative energy sources.
Spain’s Top Companies Involved in International Trade
Twenty-seven corporations rank among Forbes Global 2000. Below is a sample of the major Spanish companies that Forbes included.
- Abertis (other transportation)
- Ferrovial (other transportation)
- Grifols (biotech products)
- Repsol YPF (oil, gas)
- Telefónica (telecommunications services)
According to global trade intelligence firm Zepol, the following smaller companies are also examples of Spanish export companies.
- Mahou Sa (malt beer, wine, vodka)
- Nemak Spain (internal combustion engines, vehicle parts and accessories)
- Repsol (oil)
- Telefónica (telecommunications equipment)
Searchable List of Spain’s Most Valuable Export Products
At the more granular four-digit HTS code level, the following searchable table displays 100 of the most in-demand goods shipped from Spain during 2021. Shown beside each product label is its total export value then the percentage increase or decrease since 2020. An entry of 0% means 2020 data was unavailable.
|Rank||Spain's Export Product||2021 Value (US$)||Change|
|2||Processed petroleum oils||$15,649,183,000||+62.2%|
|3||Medication mixes in dosage||$10,879,297,000||+6.5%|
|5||Blood fractions (including antisera)||$8,048,909,000||+250.8%|
|8||Unglazed ceramic paying, tiles, cubes||$4,339,146,000||+29%|
|9||Fresh or dried citrus fruit||$4,231,793,000||+1%|
|10||Women's clothing (not knit or crochet)||$4,158,154,000||+41.7%|
|14||Miscellaneous fresh/chilled vegetables||$2,938,125,000||+15.9%|
|15||Rubber tires (new)||$2,611,162,000||+18.2%|
|20||Miscellaneous fruits (fresh)||$2,470,905,000||+23.7%|
|21||Miscellaneous iron and steel structures||$2,447,244,000||+27.5%|
|23||Perfumes, toilet waters||$2,268,648,000||+46.3%|
|25||Iron or non-alloy steel angles, shapes, sections||$2,092,372,000||+78%|
|27||Jerseys, pullovers (knit or crochet)||$2,020,459,000||+32.8%|
|31||Taps, valves, similar appliances||$1,654,788,000||+19.7%|
|32||Plastic packing goods, lids, caps||$1,648,832,000||+19.7%|
|33||Apricots, cherries, peaches, nectarines, plums||$1,644,488,000||+23%|
|34||Phone devices including smartphones||$1,585,339,000||+22.6%|
|35||Bread, biscuits, cakes, pastries||$1,569,340,000||+22.1%|
|37||Lower-voltage switches, fuses||$1,450,700,000||+2.6%|
|39||Plastic plates, sheets, film, tape, strips||$1,434,349,000||+21.1%|
|40||Miscellaneous iron or steel items||$1,425,090,000||+27%|
|41||Beauty/makeup/skin care preparations||$1,392,310,000||+26.1%|
|42||Electrical converters/power units||$1,354,192,000||+20.3%|
|43||Refined copper, unwrought alloys||$1,352,004,000||+31.2%|
|44||Other organic cleaning preparations||$1,350,214,000||+30.3%|
|45||Electric storage batteries||$1,346,602,000||+43.3%|
|47||Flat-rolled stainless steel items||$1,315,647,000||+38.2%|
|48||T-shirts, vests (knit or crochet)||$1,310,434,000||+26%|
|50||Other prepared/preserved vegetables (non-frozen)||$1,265,524,000||+16.7%|
|52||Cases, handbags, wallets||$1,255,040,000||+23.5%|
|54||Miscellaneous animal feed preparations||$1,206,335,000||+26.2%|
|56||Electric water heaters, hair dryers||$1,204,330,000||+19.6%|
|58||Women's clothing (knit or crochet)||$1,194,463,000||+45.7%|
|59||Pigments, enamels, glazes||$1,182,261,000||+23%|
|60||Miscellaneous plastic items||$1,165,444,000||+17.9%|
|62||Transmission shafts, gears, clutches||$1,115,513,000||+29.5%|
|63||Coal tar oils (high temperature distillation)||$1,113,444,000||+172.8%|
|64||Copper ores, concentrates||$1,105,786,000||+45.5%|
|65||Flat-rolled iron or non-alloy steel products (plated/coated)||$1,094,496,000||+48.4%|
|68||Fish, caviar (preserved/prepared)||$1,046,123,000||-1.6%|
|69||Men's suits, trousers (not knit or crochet)||$1,041,070,000||+34.3%|
|70||Petroleum oil residues||$1,021,234,000||+54.8%|
|71||Other food preparations||$1,017,637,000||+28.5%|
|72||Red meat offal||$1,015,950,000||+23.5%|
|74||Alcohol (including spirits, liqueurs)||$995,854,000||+37.8%|
|76||Coiled iron or non-alloy steel bars, rods||$982,709,000||+77.4%|
|77||Fruit and vegetable juices||$976,035,000||+8.6%|
|78||Table games, bowling equipment||$975,674,000||+1.9%|
|79||Computers, optical readers||$973,728,000||+25.7%|
|80||Copper waste, scrap||$969,841,000||+79.1%|
|83||Women's coats, jackets (not knit or crochet)||$962,326,000||+18.5%|
|84||Melons, watermelons, papayas||$952,017,000||+7.5%|
|85||Electric generating sets, converters||$946,120,000||-2.7%|
|86||Concrete/artificial stone items||$944,771,000||+40.5%|
|87||Plastic tubes, pipes, fittings||$926,748,000||+23.3%|
|88||Other diagnostic/lab reagents||$926,240,000||+43.6%|
|89||Dishwashing, clean/dry/fill machines||$923,485,000||+16.9%|
|90||Cellulose fiber paper||$923,027,000||+21.7%|
|91||Lamps, lighting, illuminated signs||$922,733,000||+18.4%|
|92||Electrical lighting/signaling equpment, defrosters||$903,750,000||-6%|
|93||Aluminum plates, sheets, strips||$897,733,000||+42.1%|
|95||Centrifuges, filters and purifiers||$884,685,000||+4.5%|
|96||Whole fish (frozen)||$872,790,000||+11.8%|
|97||Seats (excluding barber/dentist chairs)||$866,944,000||+34%|
|100||Liquid pumps and elevators||$842,956,000||+11.4%|
These 100 exported goods were worth a subtotal of US$229.7 billion or roughly three-fifths (59.7%) by value for all products exported from Spain during 2021.
In macroeconomic terms, Spain’s total exported goods represent 19.4% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2021 ($1.984 trillion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 19.4% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2021 compares to 17.3% one year earlier. Those percentages suggest 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 15.37% at October 2021, down from an average 15.533% for 2020 according to the International Monetary Fund.
Spain’s capital city is Madrid.
See also Spain’s Top 10 Imports, Spain’s Top Trading Partners and Top Persimmons Exports & Imports by Country Plus Average Prices
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Country Profiles, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on March 16, 2022
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on March 16, 2022
IMPORTERS.com The Online Market for G20 Importers, Spain Import Export Directory. Accessed on March 16, 2022
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on March 16, 2022
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on March 16, 2022
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on March 16, 2022
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on March 16, 2022
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Spain. Accessed on March 16, 2022
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on March 16, 2022
Zepol’s company summary highlights by country. Accessed on March 16, 2022