Spain, with a GDP of USD 1.3 trillion and a population of 46.6 million people, is the fourth-largest economy in the Eurozone, post-Brexit. Its economy grew 3.1% percent in 2017. Record tourism and export levels, coupled with a revived domestic consumption, helped drive the recovery. Forecasts for the next several years suggest growth around 2.7 percent.
U.S. subsidiaries of Spanish firms employed over 81,700 people in the United States in 2015, while contributing USD 1,145 million worth of R&D and USD 880 million to U.S. exports that same year.
Spain has traditionally represented a significant export market for the United States. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. exports of goods to Spain in 2017 amounted to USD 11.014 billion, up from USD 10.4 billion in 2016. The actual U.S. export numbers to Spain are substantially higher than the reported numbers, since many of Spain’s imports from the U.S. arrive in Europe via ports of entry in other European countries. Services exports from the U.S. to Spain continue to be strong at USD 6.7 billion in 2015. Spanish exports to the U.S. in 2017 were USD 15.6 billion.
Spain is home to dozens of multinational companies, including five of the world’s 10 largest construction companies, and Europe’s second largest phone company. Major Spanish firms in the banking, telecommunications, infrastructure and energy sectors have become global leaders. Procurement decisions for these companies continue to be made in Spain.
Due to the macroeconomic reforms in the financial sector and labor laws, costs have dropped and productivity has increased in comparison to other major markets in the region. These reforms have sharply increased Spain’s competitiveness, making it a good market for entry not only into the European region but also for Latin America and Africa.
The auto equipment and parts sector is a leading sector, ranked the sixth largest in the world by turnover and the third largest in Europe. In terms of total vehicle production, it is the second largest in Europe and the eighth largest in the world.
Tourism has traditionally been one of Spain’s most important sectors. The country is the world’s second largest tourist destination receiving 82 million foreign visitors in 2017. It ranks second in terms of receipts (expenditures) following the United States. Spain offers excellent potential as a source of visitors to the United States. In 2016, the last year for which data is currently available, a record 801,697 Spanish visited the United States, an increase of 6 percent from 2015’s total, making it the 15th largest international market for the United States.
MISCELLANEOUS INVESTMENT FACTS
With more than 1,970 miles of high-speed rail, Spain is second only to China in terms of high-speed train infrastructure. Madrid has high-speed train connections with 27 cities.
Legal & Political
As a member country of the European Union (EU), Spain adheres to EU legislation, as is the case of all member countries. The Spanish government generally aligns with the EU consensus, and the Spanish public has broadly favorable views of the EU.
Treaties & Agreements
Spain's accession to the European Union (EU) in 1986 required the country to open its economy to trade and investment, modernize its industrial base, improve infrastructure, and revise economic legislation to conform to EU guidelines. Spain is the fifth-largest economy in the EU and the fourth-largest economy in the Eurozone. Spain and the United States have a friendship, navigation, and commerce treaty and a bilateral taxation treaty. Many U.S. companies channel their Spanish investments and operations through third countries.
Spain and the United States belong to a number of the same international organizations, including the United Nations, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and World Trade Organization. Spain also is an observer to the Organization of American States. Spain began its current term as a member of the UN Human Rights Council in 2018.