Spanish exports mark record

Spanish officials affirmed the magnitude of the country’s export boom on Friday after the best annual performance on record as they count on a repeat in 2014 to sustain the economic recovery.

By Angeline Benoit And Harumi Ichikura (Bloomberg)

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Published: Sat 22 Feb 2014, 10:39 PM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 5:53 PM

Deputy Trade Minister Jaime Garcia-Legaz announced in Madrid that the value of goods sold abroad last year rose to the highest level since at least 1971, and the trade deficit shrank to the smallest on record too. Those data, signalled by Spain’s tax agency on February 19, follow an improvement in competitiveness Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy claims credit for.

Artero, a maker of goods for hair salons with almost 50 staff, typifies the continued dependence of the euro region’s fourth-biggest economy on exports to shake off the legacy of a six-year slump. The family-owned business is looking to Russia and Sweden for profit growth as sales tax increases at home put a lid on demand for its scissors and hair irons. “Spanish sales have clearly improved in recent months but there’s still no comparison with business abroad,” Alex Artero, who heads the business founded by his great-grandfather in 1909, said in a telephone interview from his facility at Vilassar de Dalt, near Barcelona.

While local sales will probably increase slightly this year after declining about three per cent in 2013, revenue will once again be driven by double-digit increases abroad, he said.

Export forecast

Garcia-Legaz unveiled trade data at a press conference at the Economy Ministry in the Spanish capital on Friday. Exports of goods rose an annual 2.9 per cent to €18.3 billion ($25 billion) in December, bringing the full-year total to €234 billion and shrinking the trade gap to €16 billion. “Spain’s competitiveness is improving and the number of exporters is increasing,” he said.

Deputy Economy Minister Fernando Jimenez Latorre already raised the government’s 2014 forecast for export growth of goods and services last week from 5.5 per cent to as much as seven per cent — almost double the 3.7 per cent increase predicted by the European Central Bank for the entire euro area.

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