The lesson Spanish exports teach


Spanish exporters are doing an outstanding job. While financial support remains flat at a minimum levels, sales abroad in April increased 18.6% against a Eurozone average of 6.5% .

During last year, figures had been more humble–5.5% in Spain and 2.7% in the euro area–, but in the first quarter of 2013 the Spanish companies have rapidly recovered and Spanish product penetration in international markets has grown by 7.5%, the Eurozone average being 0.5% and Germany‘s 1.5%. The keys? Spanish competitiveness and non-European Union demand.

The International Monetary Fund advice to Spain hasn’t changed much, though. It is a catalogue of reforms over collective bargaining to favour modification of labour conditions instead of outright job cuts when companies need adjustment. But having now the evidence of how Spain is successfully expanding its exports, the IMF should be able to tell what are competitive businesses from the onerous legacy of over-privileged labour practices that take place in some institutions, protected by less than transparent accords by local and provincial administrations–some of which spill their intervention over the private sector, too.

It’s true that the public authorities have granted credit and stabilised the payments system, and have also aided troubled banking entities whose default would have dangerously hit the entire economy. But some in the ruling classes have undeservedly profited via capital participations and compensation packages.

Here is an intractable problem, the elements among public and private sections of the administration and the industry who enjoy extraordinary rights without adding to the country’s productivity. On the contrary, they simply are a burden for everyone else. Observers and international organisations like the IMF point out that the working class must make an effort in our current economic environment, but a more balanced and efficient allocations of resources is urgently required, too.

About the Author

Luis Alcaide
Luis Alcaide works as an economist for the Spanish government since 1961. He has been state adviser in the European Union and Bank of Spain director of communications. Alcaide published editorial articles in Spain's leading newspaper El País between 1977 and 1983, and in Diario 16 between 1985 and 1988. He regularly contributes to Economía Exterior and Política Exterior. He's founder member of Grupo Consejeros.

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