We rack our brains trying to see how to improve the competitiveness of the economy. An easy recipe is to enhance what has been improved. Even remember it, amid so much self-flagellation This week, Eurostat has published international trade data for April. First, the (few) bad news: Spain registered, as has been the norm in recent decades, a trade balance deficit in that month of 2,055 million euros. From January to April the deficit was 5.2 billion. On the positive side, it is confirmed that the recovery takes shape. Even better news is that goods exports do as well. An effort to reduce this trade deficit is appreciated. In the first months of the year, exports advanced 16% (reaching 101,100 million euros) while imports increased 10% (reaching 106,200).
It is in trade within the EU where it seems that Spain does its homework best. There is a trade surplus because it exports (63.2 billion euros) more than we import (61 billion). Outside the EU – it is true that the bill for energy imports appears here – is where efforts must be redoubled because exports are 37.9 billion compared to imports of 45.2 billion. In all cases, exports increase faster. The hypothesis that the gap In the near future. Some analysts suggest that a trade balance surplus could even be reached by 2022 or 2023. It would mean having an external sector not yet very large but balanced. It would be a good sign when we have so many imbalances – public accounts, for example – in the Spanish economy.
Opportunities arise from the reopening of the world’s economies after the pandemic. Spain must take advantage of the possible relaxation of tariff tensions. Strengthen exports not only where it traditionally does it well, even if they are less well known (chemicals, medicines or capital goods), but where it has the capacity to lead and, in fact, is very competitive internationally (citrus, olive oil, wine, pork ). Cross-cutting policies – such as taxation, duly aligned with partners and competitors – should also be used to shore up competitiveness.
Since the financial crisis, Spain has gained market share in global trade. Something must be doing right, but there are two points to consider. Specific weight is required in international agreements and negotiations, particularly with Asia. We go hand in hand with the EU, but perhaps sometimes Spain should support more sectors where it is strong due to quality and incorporated technology, such as agriculture.
On the other hand, exports of goods should be promoted where Spain has capacities in human capital, but little development in patents and, in general, intangibles. The world grows out there. Without these capabilities, there will be a drag on the foreign sector. In the implementation of the “long-lights” plans recently presented, the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan and that of Spain 2050, it will be necessary to reinforce the concretion of the measures that wish to promote greater productivity and competitiveness of the Spanish economy . We need more exporting SMEs to become bigger companies.