Catalan exports of goods to international markets reach all-time high in 2015

With annual growth of 6.1%, Catalan exports account for 25.5% of total foreign sales in Spain.

Resultat de les estimacions de paritats de poder adquisitiu

State Tax Agency (AEAT) and Catalan Statistical Office (Idescat)

Trade openness is a distinctive feature of the Catalan economy. Although trade with the rest of Spain is very dynamic, the commercial orientation is increasingly focused towards international markets. Over the past 10 years, the volume of international exports has increased by 35% in current euro terms. International exports have become an essential pillar of the Catalan economy and, at the same time, allowed to mitigate the effects of the crisis. In this regard, the moderation of unit labour costs and the exchange value of the euro against the dollar have resulted in a competitiveness gain through costs, joining the efforts on innovation, design and quality.

In 2015, the international exports of goods reached an all-time high of 63.86 billion euro, an increase of 6.1% year on year. Catalan exports already account for 25.5% of total foreign sales in Spain.

The main destination for Catalan exports is EU-28, absorbing 64.9% of the total, with five countries accounting for 49.5%. Total exports to EU markets rose by 6.6%. However, geographically, the differences are significant. While exports from Catalonia to France (its main international customer) fell by 0.8% in 2015, exports to Germany rose by 9.5%. Exports to Italy, Portugal and United Kingdom increased by 14.6%, 10.1% and 10.7%, respectively.

Catalan Exports trends in non-EU markets in Europe were negative in 2015, due to a sharp decline in demand in countries like Russia (-34%) or Ukraine (-36%), as well as in Norway (-1.2%). In contrast, sales to the US grew strongly (+20.9%) and exports to Latin America also improved, growing by 8.3%. The large increase in exports to Asia (including the Middle East) is noteworthy, in particular to China, with growth reaching 14.9%.

The chemical industry -Catalonia’s main export sector accounting for almost one quarter of total exports- increased its foreign sales by 4.4% in 2015. Furthermore, the second most important sector -motor and transport equipment- grew by 10.5%, contributing more than any other to overall growth. In terms of contribution to overall growth, next was the food sector, with an increase of 7.3%.

Importantly, as regards industrial products, exports with high technology content -including pharmaceutical products, and computer, electronic and optical equipment- performed well. Catalan exports of these products have grown the most in 2015 (10.5%), more than industrial exports overall (6.2%).

Evolució de l'economia catalana

State Tax Agency (AEAT) and Catalan Statistical Office (Idescat)

Evolució de l'economia catalana

Port de Barcelona/Juanjo Martínez

Last update:  April 2016