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Leading Sectors for U.S. Export and Investment

Commercial Service Spain Best Prospect Sectors



Spain has a highly advanced aerospace industry that offers excellent opportunities for foreign companies. The sector reached turnover of an estimated USD 8.4 billion in 2014 and employs more than 50,000 workers. It is characterized by rapid growth in recent years and significant investment in R&D, up to 10.5 percent of turnover in aeronautics and 12 percent in space.
Spain’s aerospace industry is currently ranked 5th in Europe in total turnover. Activity is concentrated in:

  • Madrid (49.4 percent of total turnover)
  • ​Andalusia (21.7 percent)
  • Castilla La Mancha (12 percent)
  • Basque Country (9.9 percent)
  • Catalonia (1.4 percent)


2015 (estimated)

2016 (estimated)

2017 (estimated)

Total Market Size





Local Production















Exchange Rate: USD: 1.00





$US thousands (total market size = (total local production + imports) - exports)

Data Sources:    Unofficial estimates based on information from sector sources, including 
TEDAE (Spanish Association for Defense, Aeronautics and Space) and ICEX
Data for 2014 available in July 2015
                           1 U.S import figures include aeronautics only
                           2Lower USD estimates reflect the large change in dollar/euro exchange rate 

Spain takes part in the main European aeronautics developments, for both civil and military aeronautics. Over the last decade, Spain has experienced a significant increase in participation in programs of civil aviation and military aircraft, so much so that its workforce has increased by 65 percent since 2000.

The Spanish space industry is primarily involved in contracts of high added value in the areas of qualification of flight and ground equipment and the development and operation of satellite systems. There are also several space centers located in Spain, the most important of which being the European Space Astronomy Center (Madrid) and the Madrid Deep Space Communication Complex (NASA).

Sub-Sector Best Prospects

Key Areas of Activity for Spanish Aerospace Companies:Aeronautics Turnover by Segment
Space Turnover By Segment

Spanish aeronautics covers the entire value chain of an aircraft which makes it well positioned in the global context. The established aeronautics companies in Spain stand out in several fields, including military transport and special mission aircraft, low pressure turbines, maintenance, repair and operation activities, air-refueling aircraft and air traffic management. Spain also has a highly specialized industry in aero-engines and propulsion engineering technology, with experience in advanced manufacturing processes.
In recent years there has been ongoing interest within the industry in products related to composite tape-laying machines and fiber placement systems with computerized numerical control. Other products in demand include components for aeronautical software programming, avionics, ground support equipment, and extruded metal products and plastics.
According to TEDAE, aeronautics imports from the U.S. have grown steadily since 2010 after falling from the previous highs achieved in early years. It is estimated that in 2015, U.S. civilian aircraft, equipment, parts, and engines imports were valued at approximately USD 476 million, up slightly from the previous year, but well below the USD 600 million in 2010. U.S. aeronautics products and services are well regarded in terms of price and quality, so U.S. exporters typically have good business opportunities in Spain. The best prospects for U.S. firms in this market continue to be those associated with the manufacturing of new aircraft or engine models, or in highly technical products such as composites
The Spanish space sector has seen a change of priorities in traditionally linked to launches and scientific developments. The emphasis is currently on satellite uses that meet the needs of not only telecommunications, but institutions, governments and civilians. TEDAE estimates that total turnover of the Spanish space sector were an estimated USD 800 million, down from 810 million USD in 2012 and 2013.


Spain's aerospace sector continues to grow and shows great potential due to increased competition in the Spanish air transport market and a demand for new technology. Spain’s emphasis on the development of new airport infrastructures should further contribute to this trend.
During the recent economic crisis, companies continued to request airline licenses for landing rights from civil aviation authorities. This has increased the total number of airplanes operating in Spain and has created a steady expansion of the spare-parts market. This market should be further bolstered in the coming years by increased regional air traffic.
To decrease operating costs, some airlines in recent years have operated leases or short-term leases of equipment or aircraft themselves, opening opportunities for U.S. companies. This strategy has been in use by aviation industry for a number of years, and with additional tax incentives added in 2013, this service market is expected to continue in the short term. However, U.S. aircraft manufacturers face tough competition from Airbus as well as from aircraft manufacturers based in Europe.
Market opportunities are expected to exist due to the need to replace less efficient aircraft with eco-efficient jets as well as from the growth in domestic and international air travel demand. Lightweight aircraft constructed using new materials and composites can improve fuel efficiency. Much of the current effort of airplane producers and their component suppliers to reduce fuel consumption and emissions is concentrated in the area of these lightweight materials. Environmentally -friendly aircraft also involve innovative technology in the area of power and fuel management, “smart wings”, cockpit advances and independent energy sources for equipment.
While Spanish aerospace companies do seek outside suppliers, becoming a supplier can require patience, financial effort, an innovative approach, and competitive pricing. A direct presence in Spain could strongly support this process. The best entry strategy into the Spanish aerospace market is to enter into a partnership with an existing local company, since the Spanish company can act as a representative and provide insight into local markets.
Spain has a presence at several important aerospace trade events:
The annual Aerospace and Defense Meetings in Sevilla, is the most important B2B event in Spain for the aerospace sector. The event aims to provide a platform where leaders in the aerospace industry can meet with potential industry partners. The event includes conferences and workshops covering the latest topics such as OEM procurement and supply chain policies for the aerospace and defense sectors. The event is designed to help large firms and SMEs involved in global aviation and space industries to explore specific markets and seize business opportunities with civil and defense applications. The next edition will be held in May, 2017.

At the European level, the International Paris Airshow is the largest and longest-running aerospace trade show in the world. Since its launch the event has become known as one of the most important aerospace meeting places. The most recent edition was held at Le Bourget exhibition center from June 15-21, 2015.

Another important aerospace event is the bi-annual Farnborough International Airshow, held in Farnborough, United Kingdom. The stated objective of the event is to provide first-class business opportunities for the global aerospace industry. The next edition will be held July 11-17, 2016.

Web Resources

Spanish Association of Technological Companies in Defense, Aeronautics, and Space (Asociación Española de Empresas Tecnológicas de Defensa, Aeronáutica y Espacio):
Foreign Trade Statistics/ Chamber of Commerce: 

United States Census Bureau:

Commercial Service Spain:
Aerospace & Defense Specialist: Carlos Peresminguez, Tel: +34 91 308 1598
Fax: +34 91 563 0859 E-mail:

Automobile Aftermarket, Auto Tuning and Maintenance


Car customization, or tuningas it is known among enthusiasts, has become an increasingly popular trend in Spain. Currently, reliable statistics are not available. In the past, some data was available from the Barcelona Tuning Show.  However, this show no longer exists and all that remains are many much smaller gatherings of tuning enthusiasts.  Industry experts note that the “tuning” trend may be related to the current economic crisis, more individuals continue to invest large amounts of money in “tuning” their car instead of purchasing a new one.



2015 (estimated)

2016 (estimated)

2017 (estimated)

Turnover (USD Thousands)










Exchange Rate: USD: 1.00





$US thousands

Data Sources:  Unofficial estimates using data from local sources
                         *USD values of turnover reflect the large change in
                          dollar/euro exchange rate

Sub-Sector Best Prospects

Trends from the United States heavily influence the “tuning” subsector.  As a result, U.S. companies, known for quality and reliability, are sought out by Spanish distributors and consumers of “tuning” accessories for their products—especially exhaust  pipes, self-adhesive applications and lighting and signaling equipment (including light-emitting diodes, or LEDs). 


Industry association representatives are optimistic about growth in the repair and maintenance equipment market despite the challenging economic climate of recent years. The aging of existing automobiles, stricter enforcement of government technical inspections, and structural changes aimed at increasing market competition and consumption will encourage market demand for auto repair and maintenance equipment. These factors should increase market size.

According to ANFAC, the Spanish Association of Car and Truck Manufacturers, there are approximately 27.8 million vehicles in regular use in Spain. The average years in use for cars in Spain has been rising and in 2014 surpassed 11 years, with 55 percent of all cars being over 10 years old. With a large number of outdated automobiles in circulation, there is a growing need for properly equipped auto shops that can meet the demand for repair and maintenance services.

The steady growth of the automotive and aftermarket sector in Spain, combined with the solid reputation of U.S. automotive repair and maintenance equipment, should continue to provide opportunities to U.S. companies.

In the auto repair and maintenance market, the majority of end-users still consider quality and price as the most important factors governing purchasing decisions. Training and after-sales support services are two other factors that influence purchasing decisions among Spanish automobile repair professionals and end-users and these factors should be taken into account when attempting to introduce new automotive products in Spain.

Motortec Automechanika Ibérica, is a bi-annual trade event held in Madrid for aftermarket car parts, automotive equipment and service suppliers. The next edition will be held March 15-18, 2017. At the last edition in 2015, there were 603 exhibitors present and 51,243 visitors, increases of 28.6 percent and 25 percent respectively over the previous edition.

In order to enter the Spanish market, the most effective way is to partner with a company that can act as a local representative. In such a competitive sector, establishing a partnership with a local company can assist both in market entry and provide insight into the local environment.

Web Resources

ANFAC (National Association of Automobile and Truck Manufacturers):

SERNAUTO (Spanish Association of Equipment Manufacturers for the Automotive Industry):

SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association):

Chambers of Commerce (Spanish Foreign Trade Statistics):

Commercial Service Spain:
Automotive Specialist: Carlos Peresminguez, Tel: +34 91 308 1598
Fax: +34 91 563 0859 E-mail:

Business Investment Services


United State – Spain Bilateral FDI Unit: USD thousands

Foreign Direct Investment Position







U.S. FDI in Spain





Spanish FDI in the U.S.





Foreign Direct Investment Flows







U.S. FDI in Spain





Spanish FDI in the U.S.





Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis/SelectUSA

The United States continues to be a strategic destination for investment for Spanish firms. U.S. subsidiaries of Spanish firms employed more than 74,000 U.S. workers in 2014.

Spain is the ninth largest investor in the United States, based on country of ultimate ownership. Spanish investment in the US in 2014 was USD 54.75 billion, much of which has been invested by companies providing top-notch, cutting-edge technology to the U.S.

Spanish investors seek the expertise and knowledge of U.S-based service providers to enter the market more quickly and successfully. The U.S. Commercial Service in Spain has developed the ServiceSolutionsUSA on-line database to facilitate access by potential Spanish investors to U.S. companies that can offer specialized services required to ensure successful implementation of their expansion plans. The website for ServiceSolutionsUSA is

Interested U.S. service providers can register for ServiceSolutionsUSA at

Sub-Sector Best Prospects

Spanish investors have been very successful in tapping into opportunities in the United States, particularly in financial services, software & IT services, business services, energy and electronic parts. Many of these companies bring with them new products, new technology and, in many cases, new business models. The success enjoyed by these companies is attracting the interest of second tier Spanish company investors, many of which are key suppliers to the leading Spanish multinationals.

Other sectors focusing on the United States include the food/beverage, fashion, biotech/ healthcare, and franchise sectors. Given the current economic environment, Spanish companies will continue to look to other markets for their growth and expansion. The current economic crisis in Spain is limiting opportunities for ongoing growth in the country.

The U.S. Commercial Service receives many inquiries from Spanish companies for contacts with U.S. companies who can provide assistance with tasks including setting up an office, understanding tax implications, legal requirements, or preparing visa applications. Business and site selection consultants are also sought to help with business plan development, labor legislation, and specialized human resources. There is specialized demand for consultants who can identify partners for the development of alliances in specific areas.


The US Commercial Service office in Spain offers the ServiceSolutionsUSA program to help small and medium-sized U.S. service providers to export their services to international investors. This program also helps potential international investors enter the U.S. market more effectively by allowing them to easily communicate with these experienced U.S. service companies.

U.S. service providers receive detailed investor notices with a description of the services being sought by the Spanish firms. In addition, the contact data and the services offered by the U.S. service companies are listed in an online business directory. Companies listed in this business directory get extensive promotion in the targeted international markets as a result of partnerships with trade associations, and business organizations focused on promoting investment into the United States.

Over 130 U.S. companies have already registered to offer their services to Spanish companies. Thanks to the contacts made via the ServiceSolutionsUSA website, many of these U.S. service companies, including attorneys, accountants, consultants and engineers, are now doing business with Spanish investors and companies.

For more information on this initiative, please contact the program coordinator, Commercial Specialist Carmen Ribera (

Web Resources


Commercial Service Spain:

Professional Services Specialist: Carmen Ribera, Tel: + 34 91 308 1544,

Fax: +34 91 563 0859, e-mail:



Unit: USD thousands








Total Market Size





Total Local Production





Total Exports





Total Imports





Imports from the U.S.





Exchange Rate: 1 USD





Total Market Size = (Total Local Production + Total Imports) – (Total Exports)

Data Sources: Unofficial estimates using data from local sources including Spanish Ministry of the Environment: Institute for Energy Saving and Diversification; private sector; sector associations and journals.

After an annual decline in electricity consumption in peninsular Spain from 2011 to 2014, in 2015 there was a consumption grow of 1.9 percent over the previous year to 248,131 GWh. Electricity consumption in mainland Spain by generation source was at the following levels and growth rates in 2015 over 2014 levels: hydro 25,733 GWh (-28.2 percent); nuclear 56,796 GWh (-1.0 percent); coal 54,553 GWh (23.8 percent); combined cycle 26,086 GWh (18.2 percent); mini-hydro (less than 50 MW) 5,659 GWh (-19.9 percent); wind 47,948 GWh (-5.3 percent); solar photovoltaic 7,861 GWh (0.8 percent); solar thermoelectric 5,158 GWh (4.0 percent); renewable thermal 4,921 GWh (4.3 percent); cogeneration and other 26,845 GWh (4.9 percent).

Overall, the peninsular system’s power capacity saw a modest increase in renewable energy with the complete elimination of fuel/gas power sources. Specifically, hydroelectric power installations grew by 4.9 percent over 2014 levels (854 MW) which more than offset the closure of the last fuel/gas power plant on the Spanish mainland (520 MW). This capacity growth in hydroelectric energy combined with a 0.5 percent expansion in solar photovoltaic energy to 4,423 MW led to total peninsular system growth of 0.4 percent over 2014 to 102,613 MW. No other power generation sources saw any change in capacity levels in 2015.

Source: Red Electrica de España - (Spain’s National Grid)

Sub-Sector Best Prospects

According to the 2015 Top Markets Report for Renewable Energy published in July, 2015 by the U.S. Department of Commerce – International Trade Administration, Spain overall ranks 27th in projected top markets for renewable energy exports for 2015-2016 and 24th in the same category for 2015-2020. By subsectors, as a near-term (2015-2016) export market, Spain ranks 31st in wind, 39th in solar, and 5th in hydropower. As a medium-term (2015-2020) export market, Spain ranks 30th in wind, 18th in solar, and 7th in hydropower.

The Spanish energy sector is well developed and maintains a positive reputation globally, especially in renewable energy where it has become a world leader. Spain has leveraged its development by pledging to meet 40 percent of Gross Final Energy Demand through clean energy by 2020. Power suppliers are continuing to implement previously registered renewable energy projects in Spain, but the impact of new legislation has been to limit new investment.

The Energy Reform Bill, passed in December, 2012, continues to threaten the viability of Spanish renewable projects. As a result of the law’s passage, in early June 2013, the Spanish government announced a substantial reduction in renewables subsidies. The reforms removed the previous feed-in tariffs system for power generators and was substitute with a new Regulated Asset Value-based system (or "reasonable profitability" system) and cut payments for renewables between 1.3€ to 1.4€ billion (USD1.7 to USD1.8 billion) per year. Such budget cuts have likely contributed to the growth in coal-based power generation seen in 2015. At the start of 2014, the impact of the switch to capacity-based incentives was unclear. All renewable sources now have to take the pool price of electricity based on “reasonable profitability” calculations, but the private sector has reservations regarding how “reasonable profitability” is calculated.

Worldwide, Spanish renewable energy firms are still very active. Opportunities exist for US firms to partner with these Spanish firms in projects in Europe, Latin America, the Middle East and Africa. Joint ventures and partnerships will play an important role in capturing market share and in injecting necessary capital and state-of-the-art technology in these regions.

Other top energy market sectors for US businesses include natural gas and smart grid development. Recent developments in the Ukrainian crisis have placed extensive focus on Spain as an alternative for the Russian gas supply, especially since Spain has already implemented pipelines from Northern Africa. Spain is the 5th largest consumer of energy in the EU but has virtually no domestic production of liquid fuels or natural gas; however, there are government regulations that support Spain’s oil and gas imports from multiple countries, diversifying their suppliers.

During the 2011-2016 period, Spain's overall power generation is expected to increase by an annual average of 1.96 percent, reaching 307 TWh. Driving this growth is an annual 3.12 percent increase in gas-fired generation and a 4.86 percent rise in renewable-based electricity supply.

Energy efficiency is a promising subsector in the Spanish economy considering Spain is the 5th largest energy consumer in the European Union and has legally obligated a shift towards smart city and smart grid infrastructure. This combined with perennially high energy prices opens significant business opportunities for energy efficiency solutions companies. According to a 2014 European Commission Working Document, Spanish utilities have been replacing almost 28 million traditional electrical meters in domestic properties since 2011 and plan to complete smart meter implementation in 2018. Although a formal Cost-Benefit Analysis was not conducted in the decision-making process, Spanish regulators see this smart meter rollout as a crucial first step to developing a fully-integrated and efficient national smart grid, which could lead to substantial business opportunities for US firms.

The private sector is also investing in smart grid development and R&D to promote increased competitiveness for Spanish utility providers. It is estimated that a 1€ investment in smart grid technology generates 2€ - 2.3€ in economic benefits.


Smart energy, part of smart cities infrastructure, combines diverse new technologies to reduce the environmental impact of energy production and improve citizens’ lives. This is not, however, simply a technical challenge; organizational change in governments - and indeed society at large - is also necessary. Making a city smart is therefore a very multidisciplinary challenge, bringing together city officials, innovative suppliers, national and international policymakers, academics, and civil society.

Spain plays an important role in smart city development throughout Europe as one of the 31 member countries of the European Innovation Partnership for Smart Cities and Communities. The Partnership combines energy management, information and communications management, and transportation management to come up with innovative solutions to the major energy/environmental, societal, and health challenges facing European cities today. With the aim of creating scalable and transferable solutions to contribute for the European Union’s 20/20/20 climate action goals (20 percent emissions reductions, 20 percent production of all energy from renewable resources, and a 20 percent improvement in energy efficiency), it seeks to reduce high energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, poor air quality, and road congestion. The Partnership aims to overcome bottlenecks impeding the changeover to smart cities, to co-fund demonstration projects, and to help coordinate existing city initiatives and projects by pooling its resources together. It ultimately hopes to establish strategic partnerships between industry and European cities to develop the urban systems and infrastructures of tomorrow. As a member country, Spain plans to implement the Partnership’s recommendations in becoming a world leader in smart city creation and management.

The stakeholders in the energy sector in the evolution of Spain’s smart cities include government entities at the national level such as the Ministry of Industry, Energy, and Tourism, the National Markets and Competition Commission, Red Eléctrica de España (national grid operator), and the Institute for Diversification and Energy Saving (IDAE). In addition, the different Spanish Autonomous Communities have their own regulations and strategies regarding energy projects. Trade groups such as UNESA (Spanish Electrical Industry Association) and its members, the Spanish utilities Endesa, Iberdrola, and Gas Natural-Fenosa are also among the main stakeholders in this sector.

Web Resources

Spanish Energy Sector Publications:

European Union Policy Resources:

Energy Sector Trade Events

Smart City Expo World Congress:

Energy and Environment International Trade Fair:

International Trade Fair for the Electrical and Electronics Industry:

Trade Associations

SERCOBE (National Association of Capital Goods Manufacturers):

UNESA (Spanish Electrical Industry Association):

APPA (Renewable Energy Companies Association):

Engineering and Services Firms

ABB, S.A.:

Applus, S.L.U.:

Bureau Veritas:

COAPSA Control, S.L.:

Empresarios Agrupados (EA), A.I.E.:

Global Energy Services:

Grupo AMS:

Grupo Copisa:

Grupo Dominguis:

Grupo Eulen:

Iberdrola Ingeniería y Construcción, S.A.U.:


Medidas Ambientales, S.L.:

Sener, S.A.:

Siemens, S.A.:

Tecnatoms, S.A.:

Técnicas Reunidas, S.A.:

United States Commercial Service Spain

Sector Specialist: Carmen Adrada Tel: +34 91 308 1542,

Fax: + 34 91 563 0859, E-mail:

Green Technology


Unit: USD thousands

Green Technologies and Services







Total Market Size





Total Local Production





Total Exports





Total Imports





Imports from the U.S.





Exchange Rate: 1 USD





Total Market Size = (Total Local Production + Total Imports) – (Total Exports)

Data Sources: Unofficial estimates using data from local sources including Spanish Ministry of the Environment: Institute for Energy Saving and Diversification: sector associations and journals.

As a top three country in Europe in the development and implementation of smart city infrastructure (only behind the United Kingdom and Italy), Spain is leading the charge in creating and maintaining sustainable urban populations. As one of the smartest cities in the world and the regional capital of Cantabria, Spain, Santander has installed over 20,000 sensors throughout the municipality to monitor parameters such as noise, temperature, CO2 emissions, traffic density, public transportation monitoring, levels of garbage in waste bins, parking space usage, and more. City councils and urban planners analyze the data gathered from these sensors to promote service efficiency, reduce resource waste, and evaluate future planning efforts. The rich insight acquired from these robust new data sources has opened the door for many new business opportunities for American firms operating in Spain.

Malaga, a Mediterranean city relatively close to the Strait of Gibraltar, is another important smart city in Spain. Malaga has led the way in other aspects of the smart city concept, such as zero emissions mobility and zero emission buildings. Entire city districts of Malaga have been converted into living labs for e-vehicles and energy self-sufficient buildings, particularly through the design and operation of micro windmills.

Many up and coming smart cities begin their initiatives by striving for 100% paperless government administrations, but there are big differences in the state of development and implementation of this objective. Barcelona is one of the most advanced cities in this dimension. To date it has replaced several paper-based processes with online procedures, electronic signatures, and almost entirely electronic document processing.

Cities are unable to become smart cities on their own, and they need close partnerships with technology vendors, service providers, infrastructure operators, and many other private stakeholders to achieve their planning goals. It is not by chance that some of the most important developments in smart cities are linked to strong public-private ecosystem partnerships. Despite the importance of these partnerships, it is not easy to make them happen. Regulation, public procurement behavior, economic uncertainty, long-term commitments and returns analysis, and governance and objective divergences are other major hurdles that need to be overcome. Consistent and long-term alignment by involved government bodies and businesses is a necessary condition to create these partnerships and succeed in unifying a network of smart cities throughout regions, countries, and the world.

In Spain, the 50 largest cities have organized their own network of smart cities, Red Española de Ciudades Inteligentes – RECI, in order to share experiences and create market opportunities. To join the network a city needs to have a strategic plan with specific actions to promote innovation and the use of new technologies and needs to be willing to provide available resources and experiences to the other members of the network. The RECI is committed to creating an open network to promote economic, social, and business progress of cities through innovation and knowledge. Its purpose is to share experiences and collaborate to develop a sustainable management model and improve the quality of life of citizens, focusing on aspects such as environmental protection and sustainability. Popular project areas include automatic irrigation, intelligent lighting, pneumatic waste collection, public transportation access and efficiency, and electric vehicle infrastructure. Most member cities are also in the process of implementing renewable energy and modifying municipal buildings to reduce energy consumption. Spain Green Technology Project Index

Smart Water Projects

Spain’s environmental sector opportunities are concentrated in fresh and wastewater treatment/management and pollution remediation services and control. Fortunately for foreign companies, Spain maintains one of the lowest tariff barriers in the EU for water supply and sanitation imports. Private or public-private water companies that maintain contracts with municipalities service approximately 50 percent of the Spanish population. The largest public municipal water company is Canal de Isabel II, serving the metropolitan area of Madrid.

Despite new legislation, water management reform, and substantial investments, water resources are currently not administered in a sustainable manner. Water quality in many rivers is sub-standard. Groundwater is used up faster than it is replenished, and competition for water use is intensifying between households, agriculture, and industries (including energy and tourism). Climate change has only exasperated competition in the demand of various water resources.

As part of a commitment to implementing smart city technologies, some municipalities are beginning to install smart water infrastructure to ensure potable water resources remain safe and plentiful. First begun in 2014, Santander’s smart water meter program is currently being expanded to 1,229 buildings to allow real-time water monitoring data for municipal suppliers, city officials, and individual customers. The 2014 pilot program was lauded as a success by smart city experts, and the expanded program will greatly assist the city’s stakeholders in future water infrastructure planning efforts. The current success of Santander’s program has led Burgos to explore the possibility of implementing its own smart water scheme. Similarly, the municipal water authority for the Autonomous Community of Madrid, Canal Isabell II, is making its own efforts to install smart water meters to reduce unauthorized consumption and better monitor resources.

Current Environmental Investment Climate

According to the most recent available statistics available from Eurostat, the European Union’s statistical authority, Spain’s public sector environmental protection expenditures amounted to 0.22% of GDP, the lowest figure of the 28 members of the European Union; however, green technologies are crucial for the economic recovery as they help save valuable resources such as energy and water. In 2012, the European Investment Bank (EIB) granted a USD 630 million loan to Spain for water and sanitation improvements along Spain’s Mediterranean coast through 2015, the first installment of which was USD 441 million. The funds helped improve water supply systems, develop desalination plants, re-use wastewater, improve irrigation and boost environmental protection in Spain’s five Mediterranean river basins, including the Ebro. Success from this project may encourage greater investment in green technologies as Spain navigates a path to economic recovery.

Spain has taken major steps to reinforce its environmental policy and institutional framework. It has made progress in applying EU environmental directives and has made considerable investments in its environmental infrastructure. Emissions have fallen sharply. Over 75% of Spain’s pollution is located in urban environments. As a result, there is a growing public interest and demand for improved air quality.

As the Spanish economy has expanded, so has the amount of waste produced. Fortunately, the waste management industry is well established and has a solid reputation. In its 2008–2015 Plan Nacional Integrado de Residuos – PNIR (2008-2015 Integrated National Waste Plan), with further elaboration in its 2016-2022 Plan Estatal Marco de Gestión de Residuos – PEMAR (2016-2022 State Waste Management Framework Plan), the Spanish government aims to reduce waste generation, increase recycling rates and decrease landfill. The major Spanish multinationals in the construction and civil engineering sector are active in the waste and water treatment sectors of the environmental industry and are supportive of the government’s commitment to sustainability. About 88 percent of the 2,000 companies in the Spanish environmental sector, most of them SMEs, use proprietary technology – a percentage which has remained stable in recent years. The remaining 12 percent use primarily European environmental technology, with Germany as a leading supplier.

The stakeholders in the environment sector include the Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and the Environment; environmental ministries of the Autonomous Communities; construction companies with environmental projects such as Acciona and FCC Group; and water treatment firms such as Agbar (Aguas de Barcelona) and Canal de Isabel II.

Sub-Sector Best Prospects

Demand for green equipment, technology, and services have decreased due to the economic crisis and subsequent government austerity measures. Nevertheless, environmental concern is still high and implementation of environmental regulations, and resources allocated during recent years underscore Spain’s commitment to this sector, especially due to the interest in the development of smart cities projects all over Spain.
Products and services that could be in demand include:

  • Increase in industrial treatment plants for municipal solid and hazardous waste
  • New technology to reduce the amount of waste produced as a side effect of current treatment methods
  • Alternatives to landfill
  • Selective collection, especially introduction of selective collection at source for urban solid organic waste to improve compost quality
  • Contaminated soil treatment
  • New treatment centers and plants for end-of-life vehicles treatment and tires
  • Sludge treatment plants and recovery deposits
  • Waste water treatment plants/facilities
  • Desalination plants/facilities
  • Smart monitoring technology


Spain’s growth prior to the economic crisis placed even greater pressure on the environment and the use of natural resources. Challenging market conditions from 2008 onwards have had an impact on the demand for new products and services. Foreign technology and services can play a significant role in some niche business areas where there is still scope for action, especially where ongoing technological and process innovation is essential. As domestic opportunities have diminished, Spanish engineering and construction firms are now going abroad to work in foreign environmental and renewable energy projects. These types of companies could be excellent potential clients for US suppliers in the environmental sector.

Areas of opportunity could include: advanced technology for treating certain components of end-of-life vehicles such as glass, plastic, wood, textiles, foam, catalyzers, oils, and brake fluid; new ideas for end-of-life tires; plastics treatment, especially agricultural plastics; hazardous waste treatment including hospital waste; soil remediation; small, modular waste water treatment plants for small residential areas or those in protected rural or green belt zones; among others.

In the development of smart cities, there will be opportunities in technology for smart pollution control and monitoring, renovation of buildings and new green buildings, green urban planning, as well as technology for the efficient use of resources, re-use, and resource substitution. Urban services such as waste management, drainage systems, and monitored water resource systems that reduce pollution and improve quality are also promising project areas.

Web Resources

Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Environment:

Institute for Diversification and Energy Saving:

Fundación Entorno (Environment Foundation):

Ecovidrio (Non-profit glass recycling organization):

CECEX (Center for the Study and Experimentation of Public Works):

AEDyR (Spanish Desalinization and Water Reuse Association):

AMEC (Multisector Business Association):

Ambientum (Online environmental B2B portal):

EU Energy and Climate Policy:

Commercial Service Spain:
Environmental Sector Specialist: Carmen Adrada, Tel: +34 91 3081542,

Fax: + 34 91 5630859,

Medical Equipment & Devices


Unit: USD thousands

Medical Equipment







Total Market Size **





Total Exports





Total Local Production





Total Imports





Exchange rate: 1USD





Total Market Size = (Total Local Production + Total Imports) – (Total Exports)

Data sources: * Unofficial estimates based on input from Fenin and sector sources

*Note impact of estimated exchange rates for 2015 and 2016 on figures for these years.

Comprehensive medical attention is available to all Spaniards. Public healthcare institutions are the main purchasers of medical equipment and supplies and represent 80 percent of the market. These entities include public hospitals, health centers, research institutes, etc. The private healthcare sector accounts for approximately 15 percent of the market. The regions of Madrid and Catalonia account for over 80 percent of medical equipment sales.

Small and medium sized companies make up 90 percent of the market and account for more than 40 percent of the turnover. Large companies account for only 8 percent of the market but they generate approximately 60 percent of the turnover. Most of the large US names are well- established in Spain.

As the result of government measures over the last several years to reduce the current budget deficit, the level of procurement in the healthcare sector dropped dramatically. According to sector sources, despite the slight increase in 2015, the sector has experienced a setback of 17 percent during the period of 2010-2014. Following cutbacks in previous years, the overall healthcare budget for 2015 increased, with a slight increase of approximately 1.8 percent.

Part of these setbacks includes the retention of older technologies, instead of investments in current replacements. The European Coordination Committee of the Radiological, Electromedical and Healthcare IT Industry tries to have 60 percent of its equipment be 5 years old or newer, 30 percent between 6-10, and 10 percent older than 10 years. Currently, 1 out of 3 pieces of equipment are considered obsolete and as the budget begins to increase, these technologies will need to be replaced.

Despite these budget cuts in the sector, many medical equipment companies have increased profitability. 60 percent of companies have seen an increase as of 2014, 24.4 percent expect to increase between 2015 and 2016, 7.2 percent expect more profitability in 2017 and 8.4 percent believe that they will see profitability after 2018. The best development potential in the country for increased profitability are the fields of innovative medicine, generic drugs, E-health, and biopharmaceutical, according to the KPMG report for 2015.

Pricing is still a deciding factor. As part of the economic measures adopted by the Government, adjustments were made to the Value Added Tax (VAT) levied on different items. Many healthcare products, medical equipment, sanitary instruments and other sanitary products that formerly paid 10 percent are now subject to the 21 percent rate, as of 2015.

Official statistics for the sector are not available. The above figures are not all-inclusive but reflect market trends. Because of the current economic situation, demand for products has decreased and cost-efficiency has become a determining factor in many cases. Single use items from Asia have grown in popularity because of greater cost control. According to FENIN, the following sectors showed an increase of approximately 3 percent: cardiology, accessories, ITC, single use items. In contrast, areas that experienced negative growth include: home care, oxygen therapy and medicinal gases (- 5.5 percent); ophthalmology (-0.9 percent); in vitro diagnostics (-2 percent).

The sector continues to rely heavily on imports. Germany accounts for approximately 50 percent of the imports, while the United States has approximately 25 – 30 percent of the market share. Many U.S. companies centralize their products in other EU countries where the import requirements are less demanding and then trans-ship their products to other EU markets.

Spanish manufacturers are compensating for the drop in domestic activity by stepping up their international activities. Medical device exports from Spain have increased over 20 percent since 2008. The figure for 2015 exceeded USD 2.9 billion, a 6 percent increase for the fifth consecutive year. Europe continues to be the principal destination for exports in this sector, with 74 percent of gong to Germany, Portugal, Belgium, France and Italy. According to a KPMG report, the number of Spanish manufacturers that increased their international presence in 2015 is reported at 71 percent, and 26 percent of these companies expect to remain a stable exporter after the economic crisis has concluded.

Official tenders are used for most public healthcare sector purchases. There is a pre-selection process among the competing companies prior to the open bid. During pre-selection, supplying companies present the hospital with descriptions of their products and their prices. After reviewing the proposals, the hospital chooses the companies considered the most suitable. In the private sector, tenders are not used. Normally, private hospitals select a small number of suppliers from whom they make direct purchases. Non-EU and U.S. companies need to have either a Spanish distributor or their own branch in Spain in order to participate in official tenders and to avail of other market opportunities, as also to provide the after-care service required by law.

The total national healthcare budget increased by 1.8 percent in 2015. Although the Central Government authorizes the full amount of the healthcare budget, each of the 17 regional governments administers its respective budget. Per capita expenditures ranged from USD 1,117 in Andalusia to USD 1,778 in the Basque Country. The budgetary adjustments imposed by the Government as part of its strategy to overcome the severe economic crisis facing the country is the primary cause of the decline in the level of activity in the sector. Each regional government (autonomous community) is responsible for administering its respective healthcare budget assigned by the central government.

Given the weight of the healthcare sector in the Spanish economy, the impact of the budgetary adjustments is visible at all levels. The Government authorized special funding in early 2014 to liquidate the outstanding reimbursements and legislation was enacted to ensure that future obligations be met in a timely manner. However, the drop in demand, exacerbated by the ongoing, albeit shorter reimbursement delays and reduced credit, continues to cause serious cash flow problems for numerous distributors/importers. Many currently prefer to focus their efforts on essential basic products rather than on new products that require investment without any guarantee of generating demand for the products. While U.S. products are highly considered in Spain, pricing is now a decisive factor, with greater emphasis on cost-effective products and equipment rather than on innovation and quality.

Medical products and devices must have the CE mark and need to be imported by a company authorized to handle medical products. As a result of the development and expansion of the EU market and the requirement for the CE Mark, many U.S. companies have been centralizing their manufacturing and import operations into one single EU country from which they register and distribute their products to the rest of the EU.

E-health is an area that offers potential. Sector experts agree that healthcare technology is a key component to the growth of the market. However, as the roll-out of this sector relies on public funding and is implemented on a regional rather than a national basis, progress in this sector will continue to be slow and uneven.

Refurbished medical equipment can be imported but both public and private medical providers in Spain have traditionally shown only interest in new equipment. As is the case for new equipment, refurbished equipment must follow CE mark and registration with the Ministry of Health requirements.

Sub-Sector Best Prospects

Prior to the current crisis, diagnostics, orthopedics and disposable items had accounted for 70 percent of the market. Once the market recovers, best products would include innovative and efficient cardiology, respiratory/anesthesia, neurology, orthopedic, MRA, ETP, CT, and dermatology/wound treatment products. The area of personalized medicine will continue to prosper; especially the process of molecular diagnosis, because of its greater efficiency and individualized care. Minimally invasive technologies, primarily in the areas of cardiology and robotics, are growing more popular as well, due to the lower cost of treatment. As a result of the increasingly aged population, the demand for home care and hospice products should increase slowly but steadily according as the economy improves. While there is a good demand for disposables, Asian products are gaining in popularity because of greater cost control. With a population of over 48 million, Spain is an important market within the EU for medical products.


A good venue to meet with Spanish professionals is the Medica trade fair that takes place every November in Düsseldorf, Germany. This fair has traditionally been very popular with Spanish manufacturers and distributors. Many of the Spanish manufacturers that exhibit at Medica also import products.

Web Resources

Spanish Ministry of Health:

Secretary of State for Commerce, Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness, Foreign Trade


Association: The Spanish Federation of Manufacturers, Exporters and Importers of medical devices (FENIN):

Directory: The Guia Puntex: importers, exporters and manufacturers of medical devices:

Commercial Service Spain:

Commercial Specialist for Medical Equipment: Helen Crowley, Tel: + 34 91 308 1548,

Fax: +34 91 563 0859, e-mail:

Outbound Tourism to the United States


Unit: USD thousands

Total Inbound/outbound Travelers to/from Spain



2016 (est.)

2017 (est.)

Inbound travelers

Outbound *









Receipts (USD)

Payments (USD)









Outbound Spanish Travel to the U.S.


Number of travelers

Travel Receipts (USD)*









Exchange Rate: 1 USD





Data Sources: Spanish Market: IET (Spanish Tourism Institute),

U.S. Market: Dept .of Commerce Office of Travel & Tourism - OTTI/USDOC

Spain is not only one of the world’s leading tourism destinations; it is also an important source of outbound tourists to a number of countries, including the United States. In terms of the number of travelers to the United States within Western Europe, Spain ranks fifth behind the U.K., Germany, France, and Italy. It is also the 16th largest international outbound market for the United States.

The sector is a major component of the Spanish economy, accounting for more than 14 percent of the country´s GDP.  In terms of employment, one out of every seven employees works in sector.   Figures released in late January 2016 by the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Tourism, indicate that the number of visitors in 2015 had increased to 68,215,225, an increase of 5.5 percent over 2014. Spain ranks second worldwide in terms of receipts, following the United States.

Travel to the United States from Spain continued the upward trend of 2014 when 700,084 Spaniards visited the U.S. (+12.9 percent). Statistics through June 2015 show an increase of 7.5 percent at 325,761.  The positive figures for the past two years reflect the turnaround in the economy.  Spain is slated to have one of the highest growth rates in Europe this year at 2.75 percent.

Activity in 2016 is expected to follow the positive trend of the previous two years, although the current exchange rate will have an impact on the level of growth.

European destinations accounted for approximately 78 percent of trips made outside of Spain in 2014. Traditionally, the most popular destinations are France, Portugal and Italy, followed by the U.K., and Germany. The African continent accounts for eight percent of long-haul travel, with Morocco leading the way with over six percent of the travelers. The Americas account for almost 10 percent of long distance travel, with over three percent visiting North America. The most popular long haul destination is the United States, followed by Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador and Brazil. Asia receives approximately four percent of all long haul travelers.

New York continues to be the top destination, followed by Florida and the West coast. The majority of Spanish travelers are repeat visitors and are no longer hesitant to include several destinations in their itineraries. Package tours remain popular and operators are adjusting their programs to meet their clients’ demands. Nonetheless, the use of Internet continues to rise. Rather than use it just for travel information, travelers increasingly use it to purchase tickets and to make hotel reservations.

According to U.S. Dept. of Commerce (TINET) statistics, Spanish travel habits (net purpose) are as follows:  leisure and visits to friends and relations – 85 percent; business and convention – 17 percent.  The ongoing interest of Spanish companies in investing in the United States will increase the volume of business travel.  

The number of travelers making their arrangements directly continues to rise.   Top product categories for online purchases by consumers are travel and hotel, ticket services.  The number of visitors claiming to use pre-paid packages when traveling to the United States decreased from 10 percent in 2013 to 7 percent in 2014, a reflection of the growing importance of Internet.

The regions that generate most U.S.-bound travelers are Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia and the Basque Country (in the north of Spain).

Sub-Sector Best Prospects

The most popular state destinations continue to be New York, Florida, California, Colorado (ski + drive), followed by Arizona with the Grand Canyon, and Nevada with Las Vegas. Additionally, Hawaii, Alaska, Washington, D.C., Boston, Massachusetts, National Parks, theme parks and Indian reservations are attractive destinations. Destinations with easy access to golf courses are also starting to be of interest. Skiing is another area of interest, particularly in the Colorado area.


The close commercial ties between the two countries and the increasing awareness and curiosity about the United States in general, particularly among the younger generation, coupled with an improving economy, make Spain a market of opportunity for a wide variety of U.S. destinations.

Industry sources maintain that the increased use of Internet and online purchases combine to make online travel arrangements very attractive.

The increased number of direct routes will also have an impact. There are now direct flights to Boston, New York, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Charlotte, Atlanta, Dallas, Chicago, Miami, and Los Angeles.

The key to success for U.S. operators and destinations is promotion. The increased competition among local travel industry companies has led to aggressive campaigns, not only in price but also in more varied product offerings. This renewed interest in broadening the range of options available to the traveler provides a good opportunity for U.S. entities to highlight destinations with special unique features as well as their services and products. Of special interest are spin-offs from the principal gateway cities, outdoor activities, and the National Parks.

Spain’s premier travel and tourism fair, FITUR, will take place in Madrid January 18-22, 2017. FITUR is Spain and Latin America’s premier annual forum for the tourism and travel sector.  It is an excellent showcase for U.S. travel and tourism entities and destinations to actively promote themselves among the tour operators and the travel press in this promising market.

The fair is a priority for the U.S. Commercial Service Spain office, which actively supports the U.S. Department of Commerce´s, certified Discover America pavilion at FITUR.  Given the importance of FITUR, BrandUSA has assigned more resources to the Discover America pavilion to make participation more cost-effective. For more information, please check out the following website:

The VisitUSA Committee also focuses on creating greater awareness and knowledge of the United States and promoting U.S. destinations. The United States Commercial Service in Spain (CS Spain) and the VisitUSA Committee collaborate closely in promoting the opportunities of the Spanish travel market to selected U.S. destinations. They look forward to working with motivated U.S. destinations to arrange FAM trips, workshops, and seminars to assist Spanish tour operators, travel agents, and the travel press to learn more about U.S. destinations.

Web Resources

Spanish Ministry of Industry, Energy & Tourism:

Spanish Tourism Institute:

U.S. Dept. of Commerce Office of Travel & Tourism Industries:

VisitUSA Committee:

Trade Event

FITUR 2016: CS Madrid supports the U.S. Pavilion at this annual Travel and Tourism Fair, held in Madrid in January (Jan. 20-24, 2016).



Daily Press: Nexotur,

Commercial Service Spain:

Tourism Sector Specialist: Helen Crowley, Tel: +34 91 308 1548,

Fax: +34 91 563 0859 E-mail:

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  Notice to Visitors!

  The link you have chosen will take you to a non-U.S. Government website.

  If the page does not appear in 5 seconds, please click this: outside web site is managed by the International Trade Administration and external links are covered by its website disclaimer statement.