In the current scenario of crisis of the Spanish economy, exports seem like the only thing able to spur the engine of growth. Never the media had written such strong opinions on foreign trade sector. Official data on export bring positive information, although some nuances need to be made. The external sector contributes with a growth of 2% of GDP for an economy that still in general terms has been slowing down for the last 5 years.
Exports have grown by 20% and there are 40% companies exporting now than in 2007. The coverage rate has reached an all-time high of 88%, foreign sales had never before been so high (€222,64 billion) and Spanish average export growth rate is the highest in the EU. Semi-manufactured products (26% of total exports) and capital goods (20%) are the main exporting sectors, followed by food and automobile. As for destinations, EU is the main one and still growing.
Spanish exports get more easily to some destinations that are not the most representative, some countries in Africa, Central Asia and Oceania. Even if those countries don’t mean more than 16% of total Spanish exports, it is interesting to point out that some Spanish companies have a strong weight in some remote areas, where business climate is not the most suitable in terms of financing, payment security or legal security in the event of non-payment. This proves a better competitiveness of Spanish exports, innovation capability for different export destinations and, ultimately, a new exporter profile. Also, they show a less comforting reality.
It is true that the growth of exporting companies and the value of exports have grown considerably in recent years. Each year more firms venture to start an export business. In 2012 45% of exporting enterprises sold abroad for the first time or they had not done so in the previous 4 years. Sales of these companies were 2.1% of their total exports. In other words, there is a large number of new exporting companies that hardly contribute in the growth of the export market, nor guarantee a consolidated export market.
Other companies do contribute to exports market growth. 42% of companies that sold abroad during 2011 stopped exporting in 2012. These companies have contributed with 1.6% of 2012 total exports. The results show that a high percentage of companies fail in the export experience or lack competitiveness to continue growing in foreign markets.
So who can really be called a professional exporter?
In 2012 around 20,000 companies contributed to 90% of total exports and represented 15% of Spanish companies. Their role is crucial. Not only their experience brings an unquestionable added value, but that the ratio of delinquency associated to customers of this type of exporters is below sporadic or first exporters delinquency ratio. It is even below companies only operating in the domestic market delinquency rate.
Spain contributes with 1.7% to the global exchange of goods trade, after European countries such as Germany, France, Italy or the United Kingdom. However, the growth experienced by Spanish exports in recent years, including 2012, is the highest of the European economies. It is true that there is a sense of little consistency since most of exporting companies have little experience, and there is a high rate of interruption or failure in foreign markets, and with a very high concentration in few professional exporting companies.
Any process of internationalization in a global world requires certain doses of specialization, competitiveness, innovation, and competitive intelligence. There are many companies that need to be fed in international business, and it is not enough to do it for the short-term just to weather the lack of domestic demand. Lasting strategies should be designed in order to give the company some added value abroad. Finally, public and private support is essential in the achievement of that goal and companies should take advantage of it. Because it will be good for everyone.