Catalan exports hit a new all-time record in 2023, exceeding 100,000 million euros for the first time

Catalan Economy

19 Feb 2024

2023 also had the highest number of regular exporter companies at 17,757, an increase of 1.6%.

Catalan exports grew by 6.1% in 2023 and, for the first time, have exceeded 100,000 million euros, reaching 100,683.5 million euros. According to ACCIÓ-Catalonia Trade & Investment - the Agency for Business Competitiveness of the Department of Business and Labour - this is the highest figure on record, based on data published by the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism this Monday. Some records are a percentage point above the forecasts made by the government last October.

Thus, Catalan sales abroad lead the total exports of the entire Spanish state, with 26.2% of the total. In addition, 2023 also saw the highest number of regular exporters - those who have exported consecutively for the last four years - reaching 17,757, 1.6% more than the previous year.

“The projects managed by the Foreign Offices of ACCIÓ-Catalonia Trade & Investment have grown by 36% this year 2023 compared to the previous year”

Roger Torrent, Minister of Business and Labour of Catalonia

According to the Minister of Business and Labour, Roger Torrent, "the figures show the resilience, dynamism, and adaptability of the Catalan business fabric, which has been able to overcome 2023 with uncertainties and difficulties on a global scale". According to Torrent, "This is the merit of the companies and their innovative and competitive projects, but also part of the merit of the policies of accompaniment of the government in the process of internationalization of companies in an environment of deceleration." In this sense, the Minister of Business and Labour has assured that "the projects managed by the Foreign Offices of ACCIÓ-Catalonia Trade & Investment have grown by 36% this year 2023 compared to the previous year".

In fact, the growth of exports to Catalonia in 2023 has been higher than that of world foreign trade as a whole, which the World Trade Organization (WTO) puts at 0.8%. And it contrasts with the decline that occurred in Spain as a whole (-1.4%) and the Eurozone (-3.4%).

The automotive sector is driving the growth in exports

In terms of sectors, the growth of Catalan sales abroad in the automotive sector (+39.1%), capital goods (+5.5%), food (+4.3%), and chemical products (3.8%) is particularly noteworthy. Exports in 2023 were mainly destined for the European Union (+7.6%) and America (+16.8%). By country, markets such as France (+2.7%) stand out, with significant growth in markets such as Germany (+10.4%) and Poland (+25.7%). Outside the EU, Catalan sales abroad have also experienced significant growth in the United Kingdom (+13.2%), Turkey (+36%), Morocco (+9.3%), Vietnam (+21.3%) and Australia (+12.9%).

By region, Catalan sales abroad also increased throughout the territory: Barcelona (78,626.8 million euros, +6.6%), Tarragona (10,999.8 million euros, +4.9%), Girona (8,131.4 million euros, +4.4%) and Lleida (2,925.6 million euros, +0.8%).

If a longer period is analyzed, in the last ten years Catalan exports have grown continuously, only with the exception of 2020 due to the restrictions caused by the pandemic. Thus, during this decade, Catalan sales abroad have increased by 70.8%.

Reduction of the Catalan trade deficit

Another outstanding fact is the improvement of the Catalan trade balance in 2023. In this sense, imports have been reduced by 1.6% compared to 2022, reaching 109,995.8 million euros. And this has translated into a reduction of the Catalan trade deficit of 44.8%, which stands at 9,312.3 million euros.

Challenges for 2024

Catalan companies will face a series of international challenges in the coming year that could affect their international operations. According to a study by ACCIÓ-Catalonia Trade & Investment, these include situations such as the economic slowdown and growing financial risks, the global shortage of talent, and the reconfiguration of global value chains. These challenges are set in the context of the fragmentation of the world order and the collision between climate emergency and energy security, among others.

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