The Export Situation Survey corresponding to the first quarter of 2014 reveals ongoing growth in exports, the Spanish Government said. The Synthetic Index of Export Activity (Spanish acronym: ISAE) stood at +24.7 points – the highest value since the first quarter of 2007 (+28 points) – and posted significant growth of over 7 points when compared with the fourth quarter of 2013 (+17.4 points).
The value of the order backlog rose significantly by more than 11 points on the figure posted in the previous quarter (by 8.1 points to 19.5). In turn, the indicator representing the outlook at three months rose by almost four points (from 23.8 to 27.7), while the indicator representing the outlook at 12 months slipped slightly (from 43 to 39.9 points), albeit within positive values.
Factors in export activity
The evolution of foreign demand continues to be the factor that most of those surveyed cite as having the greatest positive impact on export activity (48.4%), a percentage that is two points higher than in the previous survey period.
The next most important factor cited by those surveyed is the availability of qualified human resources (26.4%), nine points higher than in the previous quarter.
The factor cited by the largest number of those surveyed as having a negative impact is international price competition (55.5%), although this percentage has fallen six points on the previous quarter.
The next most-cited factors are the cost of raw materials (50.3%) and the price of oil (42.9%). These percentages are six and seven points lower than those posted in the previous quarter, respectively.
The prices and profit margins in export activity remained stable in the period for a high percentage of those surveyed, accompanied by an increased upward trend in profit margin perception.
Hiring of personnel for export activities
The total number of people hired and engaged in export activities remained stable for the majority of those surveyed for the first quarter of 2014. 74.3% believe that the hiring of personnel for activities related to export activity remained stable in the quarter; 78.4% think it will remain stable in the next quarter; and 74% think it will remain stable in the next 12 months.
Generally-speaking, a sense of optimism pervades the rest of opinion on the hiring of people for activities related to exports and this is indicated by the positive values posted by current indicators on the outlook at three months and the outlook at 12 months (8.5, 7.8 and 10.5 points, respectively).
Furthermore, 67.1% of people stated that the proportion of their workforces engaged in export activity has remained stable, while 24.9% state this figure has risen and 7% that it has fallen.
Export destinations in the order backlog
Perception of performance by the export order backlog in the quarter has improved when compared with the previous quarter for almost all major destination regions for the exports considered in the survey.
The increase was larger in the European Union and even more so in the Eurozone. In the first quarter of the year and within the Eurozone, France (77%) and Germany (68.4%) represent the countries to which the largest proportion of companies claim to export.
Beyond the Eurozone, the United Kingdom is the most popular destination chosen for Spanish exports in the EU. From the rest of Europe, Russia and Turkey were the countries most cited as the export destination.
The United States maintained its position as the export destination for the largest proportion of companies that export to North America (75.1%). Among those companies that export to Asia, China remains the leading export destination (61.3%).
Stability consolidated itself as the dominant characteristic for most destinations in the order backlog outlook at three months. Nonetheless, an increase in the percentages of those companies expecting an upward trend can still be seen among those that export to countries in the Eurozone, Asia and Africa.
The best export outlook at 12 months relates to France (42.5%) and Germany (36.3%).
Press Release, May 13, 2014