Madrid (EFE).- The increase in energy imports, both in volume and price, raised the Spanish trade deficit to 68,112.2 million euros in 2022, more than double that a year earlier (26,177.9 million), according to data published this Thursday by the Ministry of Industry.
The strong increase in prices derived from the war in Ukraine triggered both exports and imports to record levels -with increases of 22.9% and 33.4%, respectively-, which shows the dynamism of the Spanish foreign sector, according to the Secretary of State for Commerce, Xiana Méndez.
The key factor that explains the evolution of the trade balance in 2022 is energy, responsible for more than three quarters of the trade deficit: the energy deficit amounted to 52,616.8 million, far from the 15,495.5 million of the non-energy deficit.
The energy gap is derived, in turn, from the increase in energy imports -90,879 million, double that of a year earlier and the most imported product, 20% of the total-, mainly due to the sharp rise in prices, although also to an increase in volume purchases.
In 2022, more energy products were imported due to the reactivation of the economy and transport -particularly due to the recovery of the tourism sector after the pandemic-, as well as the need to accumulate reserves in a context marked by the war in Ukraine, has explained Mendez.
With the deterioration of the trade balance of 2022, the coverage rate – percentage of imports that can be covered with exports – fell to 85.1%, 7.3 points less than in 2021.
Exports and imports increase
In 2023, imports of merchandise grew by 33.4%, to 457,321 million, an increase that is mainly explained by the sharp rise in prices (they rose 24.2%), although the purchase volume also increased (in 7.4%).
The growth of imports was derived mainly from higher purchases of energy products, although capital goods (with an increase of 26.7%), food, beverages and tobacco (31.2%) and chemical products (18% more) also contributed. .6%).
The largest energy purchases doubled imports from the United States, although those from the European Union (19.7%), Latin America (51.9%) or Asia (42%) also grew strongly.
With regard to exports, they totaled 389,209 million, 22.9% more and close to the goal of reaching the threshold of 400,000 million in 2027, an advance that, as in the case of imports, was more related with prices (up 18.3%) than with volume (up 3.9%).
The sectors that contributed the most to this increase in exports were chemical products (34.6% more sales abroad), energy (80.1%), non-chemical semi-manufactures (20.4%) and food, beverages and tobacco (12.8%).
Regarding the destination, exports to the European Union, which accounted for 62.8% of the total, grew by 24.9%, a rebound that is observed in all the main markets except China, which fell by 7.5% lower sales of meat products.
The growth rates of imports and exports moderated from the end of the summer and, according to Méndez, everything indicates that exports will continue to grow in 2023, although in a more moderate way due in part to the normalization of prices.
Exports to Russia and Algeria fall
The Russian invasion of Ukraine and the successive packages of sanctions reduced exports to Russia by 42% in 2022, although imports increased by 26.4% due to the increase in the cost of energy products -the month of December already shows a contraction-.
Likewise, exports to Ukraine also suffered, although those of energy goods and capital goods have increased and imports of cereals have increased.
With regard to Algeria – which in the summer froze the domiciliation of accounts linked to foreign trade – exports fell by 45.9% (a drop that reached 93% in December), although imports evolved normally.