Scotland: a trading nation

A plan for growing Scotland's exports.


Country brief

Spain is the fifth largest country in the EU, with a population of 47 million and is now one of the fastest growing economies in the Eurozone.

Key market information

Economic indicators


GDP 2017*


GDP per capita 2017*


GDP annual growth rate 2013-2017


GDP annual growth forecast 2018-2023




Projected population growth 2017-2050 (% change)


Average tariff 2016


Scotland’s exports to Spain


Scotland’s exports to Spain 2017


Average annual growth in Scotland’s exports to Spain 2013-2017


Country rank in Scotland’s exports 2017


Scotland's Top Export Sectors to Spain

Scotland's Top Export Sectors to Spain Chart

Spain imports from the world


Spain goods and services imports 2017*


Spain average annual import growth 2013-2017*


Spain Top 15 Import Sectors

Spain Top 15 Import Sectors Chart

Sources: Economic indicators (World Bank, IMF World Economic Outlook), Scotland’s Exports (Export Statistics Scotland 2017), Country Imports (World Bank, UN Comtrade).

* denotes an indicator which has been converted into GB£ from US$ using the Bank of England’s average annual spot rate data. Note growth rates may vary depending on unit of currency used.

The Spanish Economy

Spain is the 5th largest economy in the EU and is now one of the fastest growing economies in the Eurozone. Given its large population, Spain is one of the biggest consumer markets in the EU. Given its cultural and language links, Spain often acts as a gateway to entry to Latin American markets.

There are also around 1 million UK citizens who are either full time or part time residents in Spain creating particular opportunities for Scottish and UK products.

Key economic indicators are:

  • The Spanish economy has been growing steadily at 2.6% of GDP in 2018. (OECD)
  • Exports as a percentage of Spain’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product) were 34% in 2018. (OECD)
  • Unemployment is high at approximately 15.3% in 2018. (OECD)

Spain is a member of the European Union(EU), the World Trade Organization (WTO) and other international bodies. Goods manufactured in Scotland are exempt from import duties.

The Department for International Trade’s guide to doing business in Spain can be found here

Strengths of the Spanish market include:

Spain ranks 53rd out of 190 countries in the World Bank rankings for ease of doing business in 2018.

  • Good transportation links
  • Advanced ICT network

Benefits for Scottish businesses exporting to Spain include:

  • English as a business language
  • Openness to Scottish and UK brands
  • Good transportation links

What Scotland exports to Spain

Spain is Scotland’s ninth largest export market with £850 million worth of exports going there in 2017, representing 2.6% of all Scottish exports. (Export Statistics Scotland)

The top 5 Scottish export sectors to Spain are:

  • Food and Drink
  • Wholesale and Retail Trade
  • Engineering and Advanced Manufacturing 
  • Energy
  • Technology, digital and media

Priority sectors in Spain for economic development include:

  • Energy
  • Education
  • Healthcare
  • Food and Drink
  • Agriculture

Sectoral Opportunities

When compared to the export performance of comparator countries (Norway, Finland, Ireland and Denmark), Spain presents potential export opportunities in the following subsectors:

  • Chemical Sciences
  • Computer and IT Services
  • Machinery and Equipment
  • Manufacture of Computer, Electronic and Optical Products
  • Food
  • Transport Equipment
  • Financial Services

Infographic showing top opportunities in Spain

Existing in-market support for Scottish businesses in Spain

Scottish Development International

Scottish Development International has offices in Barcelona and Madrid with 2 members of staff supporting trade focused on the consumer industries and science and tech sectors. 


There are currently 5 GlobalScots in Spain covering the energy, financial services and technology sectors. Spain is a priority country for expansion of the GlobalScot network.

Department for International Trade

Contact the Department for International Trade (DIT) team in Spain for more information and advice on opportunities for doing business in Spain.

The British Chamber of commerce in Spain can offer member businesses support, advice and introductions in-market through their office in Barcelona. 

University links

Spain is one of the top 5 EU partners with Scotland for research collaboration. The Universities of Aberdeen, Glasgow and Strathclyde along with the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia are involved in the EU’s flagship Human Brain Project, one of the two largest scientific projects ever funded by the European Union. The project will build cutting-edge research infrastructure that will allow the advancement of knowledge in neuroscience, computing, and brain-related medicine.

The University of Strathclyde is a partner on the Horizon 2020 project Internet of Food and Farm 2020 (IoF2020), including Spanish company Bolt Management SL. The project paves the way to data-drive farming capable of providing higher production yields in a more sustainable and competitive fashion. 

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