The year 2020 and the related covid-19 pandemic, which hit the country with all its force (million infected), will have far-reaching economic consequences. Spain operated in a state of emergency mode for over three months, which affected almost all sectors.
During 2020, the government introduced a number of measures to help both residents and businesses. These support measures and social benefits were very visibly reflected in the level of the public finance deficit, which reached almost 12% of GDP.
The national debt, which Spain has been trying to reduce for years, will rise drastically in 2021 to almost 122% of GDP. Overall positive GDP growth (2% of GDP in 2019) fell by up to 11% due to the pandemic.
The impact of the current crisis will be noticeable in the next few years, it will negatively affect a number of companies and enterprises and will be reflected in the renewed increase in unemployment, which has been one of the highest in EU countries for many years.
Already at the beginning of the pandemic, the government announced that it would invest an unprecedented EUR 200 billion in the recovery of the economy, primarily in the form of bank guarantees, which corresponds to 20% of GDP. Affected companies were provided with guarantees to ensure liquidity, interest-free loans, the government paid out social benefits to million people as part of short-term work, and allowed for deferment of customs and tax payments.
A number of state subsidies were allocated to individual sectors affected by the crisis. However, direct fiscal relief will reach a level below 1% of GDP in 2021.
Post-COVID-19 opportunities for foreign exporters
According to the approved energy plan, the closure of nuclear power plants will take place in the years 2025-2035 and the construction of a nuclear waste repository will be necessary. Related to this is the need for technologies for handling and storing nuclear waste, as well as technologies for remediation and decontamination of the areas where the power plants were located.
After 2035, there will be 2 nuclear power plants that will need to be modernized, which opens up opportunities for companies dedicated to innovative technologies for facility management and modernization.
Another Spanish goal is to become a carbon neutral country by 2050. In this context, it wants to obtain up to 74% of electricity from renewable sources and increase the effective use of energy by 39%. For the period 2021-2031, the government plans to invest 42% of the energy budget in the development of renewable sources.
The gradual transition to renewable energy sources is related to the modernization of electrical distribution networks, for which significant funds are also allocated in the budget for the coming period. The issue of storing electrical energy from renewable sources and smart grids will also provide opportunities.
There is a demand in the country for advanced products and services in the field of information and communication technologies. Following the covid-19 pandemic, this sector has been assessed as a priority and across all sectors it has been stated that in the coming period it is necessary to focus on improving digital services, building technological and digital sovereignty and strengthening and expanding internet availability and the necessary infrastructure.
One of the main priorities will be the development of modern solutions to ensure the functionality of companies and state and public administration for working from home.
Other opportunities that Czech companies should keep in mind are in the following areas: smart grids for more efficient use of energy; technologies related to the concept of smart cities, which are intended to manage increasingly complex urban environments; the Internet of Things, where many networks will be connected and include security, analytics or management capabilities; cyber security; fintech or big data, which opens up new areas of activity for companies involved in research, innovation and development. The ENIA 2021-2023 strategic plan envisages a budget of EUR 600 million for the development of artificial intelligence.
According to allcountrylist, the defense sector has seen constant growth in recent years. As part of the state budget for 2021, almost EUR 680 million has been earmarked for the development of industrial and military technology projects. Modernization of armaments, material, infrastructures and systems and information and telecommunications technologies is being prepared.
After the covid-19 crisis, Spain wants to continue developing and modernizing industry, which still accounts for less than 15% of GDP. The Spanish government is aware of the need to strengthen industrial capacities and modernize them, which is why the 2021 budget allocates EUR 3 billion to support industry and the development of SMEs.
The priority areas include: development of production capacities, automation and robotization of production and digitization. The autonomous regions of Catalonia, the Basque Country, Valencia and Andalusia have a clear industrial development strategy.
Healthcare and pharmaceutical industry
It is a strategic sector that has recently seen an increase in the number of its workforce. In Spain, this sector was undervalued with insufficient bed capacity before the onset of the crisis. The Spanish government’s budget for 2021 envisages an amount of €3,140 billion allocated to the health sector.
Efforts will be made to develop primary care, improve hospital equipment, increase the capacity of intensive care units and invest in innovation and technology.