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New markets help Spain into balance of payments surplus for first time in 42 years


11:06, May 18, 2013

MADRID, May 17 (Xinhua) -- Spain's balance of trade for March was in the black for the first time in 42 years, statistics showed on Friday.

Spanish exports during the month totaled 20.288 billion euros (about 26 billion U.S. dollars), two percent higher than in March 2012, while imports fell by 15 percent in respect to last year to a total of 19.653 billion euros, leaving a surplus of 634.9 million euros.

Part of the reason for the figures is a 3.4 percent fall in export prices, but Secretary of State for Commerce Jaime Garcia Legaz was at pains to point out that the growth in exports outstripped the fall in prices.

Another reason for the positive balance of trade is that the fiscal reforms of the Spanish government have led to a collapse of internal demand in a country where over 27 percent of the workforce is unemployed and consumer confidence is extremely low.

A 0.8 percent fall in internal demand led to a fall in demand for imports, although Legaz preferred to put a positive spin on the figures, saying that the demand for foreign goods was being replaced by a demand for Spanish produce.

"The production process in 2013 is something to attract our attention as it has fallen from 86 percent to 103.2 percent in a year," said the Secretary of State, who insisted Spanish exports were now more competitive.

"Prices do not depend on Spain, they are determined on a worldwide level," he explained.

"But Spanish producers, who are obliged to lower prices are still finding markets and they are more competitive," he continued, adding this was a structural rather than a short-term trend.

With the crisis in Europe dragging on, Spanish producers have looked at other markets, with exports outside of the European Union (EU) rising by 20.8 percent in March to 8.414 billion euros, making up almost 42 percent of the country's total exports.

"The EU represented 75 percent of our exports when the crisis began and now it is 45 percent of our sales," explained Legaz, who stressed that the current growth markets were in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Legaz explained exports to the Middle East rose by 35.2 percent, 22.6 percent to Africa, 7.1 percent to North America, including a rise of 13.9 percent to the United States, while exports to the EU fell by 8.1 percent. (1 U.S. dollar = 0.78 euro)

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