Spain Economy and Trade

Economic conditions. – According to indexdotcom, the current economic conditions of Spain are fully understood only when, alongside the natural factors that contribute to their determination, we recall the long historical evolution through which the peninsula has passed. Apart from the very ancient period of Phoenician colonization, the peak of economic prosperity coincides with the Arab domination, under which the natural resources of the country were maximized; but a long decay follows a relatively short development cycle, reaching its maximum at the end of the century. XVII. An undeniable recovery follows, around the middle of the next, (under Charles III), but with the wars of independence first, and then with the loss of the American colonies and the disaster of Cuba, the movement that was to bring the country back into the circle. of European life, equipping it to the needs of the renewed capitalist economy, it undergoes a stoppage, which however does not translate into pure loss. The same painful, repeated internal and external political experiences (Moroccan crisis) served to give Spain a more precise awareness of its possibilities and needs, and of the most suitable means to adapt these to those. Finally, neutrality in the world war gave an energetic stimulus to industrial activity, due to the economic benefits obtained, and the diminished foreign competition on the domestic market. The economic resurgence which had already taken shape at the beginning of the twentieth century was thus accelerating, and without yet meeting the consequences that the recent crisis has produced in the most industrially advanced nations. With all that, the disharmonies that disturb the life of the country are far from being eliminated. Its economic structure remains, in spite of everything, essentially agricultural, and with development possibilities that find in the geographical determinants a limitation that is difficult to overcome. The industrial and commercial equipment has greatly improved, but still insufficient for the needs of the nation, and it too sees itself hindered by too many elements (albeit outside those proper to its geographical constitution), to be able to be, as it is it was hoped for, a decisive element in the modern transformation of Spanish life.

As for the basis of this, it should be remembered that agricultural and pecuniary wealth was valued, before the civil war, around 85-90 billion pesetas, while industrial wealth was perhaps close to 50.

Trade abroad. – For over two centuries at least the volume of Spanish trade, which was one of the most active on Earth, has been reduced to modest figures, certainly not comparable to those of the other main European nations (not even representing the 2% in value of world trade).

Nonetheless, these figures have been increasing in recent times:

Sixty years ago, imports and exports combined did not yet reach a billion pesetas. In 1900 they had risen to 1,800 million, in 1910 to almost 2 billion and just under 2½ in 1920, to approach 5 billion in 1930 (however, it must be taken into account that in 1930 the peseta retained just 1/3 of its gold value). The trend of the two items shows as a general fact the surplus of imports over exports (about 50 million pesetas, on average, between 1892 and 1910, up to 200 after this date), except for the parenthesis (1915-19) of the World War, during which there was a positive balance, which reached its peak in 1918 with the figure of 387 million pesetas.

But after 1920 the commercial movement resumed its regular march on the whole, accentuating the deficit, which in the three-year period 1922-24 rose to over 1.3 billion pesetas, on average, per year.

Even from a first, general specification of the categories of goods that enter into this trade, its main characteristics emerge, and what is its fundamental imbalance: the need for an export of large-volume and low-value raw materials. to counterbalance a large import of expensive artifacts. The accentuation of this imbalance in recent times certainly has complex reasons, but it is perhaps closely related to the exchange rate of the peseta, which, while favoring foreign competition in the field of exports of manufactured products, hindered the purchase of raw materials. Spain has wide availability. Thus, while the percentage of foodstuffs has grown in the global value of goods sold, so too has that of manufactured goods in purchased goods;

The following tables allow a more detailed examination of the two items and do not need long comments. Nevertheless, it should be added that the categories in the tables do not always give the exact measure of the prevalence, in one or the other chapter, of the individual products. Going down to a more detailed analysis, it is noted that in the exports of recent years, oranges clearly prevail, in terms of value (167 million pesetas in 1933), followed at a great distance by wines (70 million), oils (41) and from almonds (32), from iron minerals, canned fish, potassium salts, lead, skins, cork, etc. Cotton factories, which enter for just 17 million, are the only manufactured product of any importance that contributes to exports.

Similarly to what has been said about exports, it should be noted that in imports the first place goes to cotton (93 million pesetas in 1933), which are behind cars (43 million), cars (41 million), eggs (39 million), wood, electrical equipment, petrol, hard coal, coffee, tobacco, wood pulp, rubber and various chemical and pharmaceutical products.

The main suppliers and main customers in Spain are shown in the following table, which shows the changes in relative positions from the year 1913 to 1933 (% of foreign trade, by value).

The Italian-Spanish trade balance closed – with few exceptions – in favor of Italy in the post-war period up to 1933. Italian imports into Spain essentially consist of cars, iron, wrought steel, hemp, and various fabrics; exports, of fish (fresh and preserved), olive oil, cork, iron and lead ores, etc.

School organization. – The teaching is distinguished, as in Italy, in primary, secondary and higher, and is fundamentally of state, depending on the Ministerio de instrucción pública y bellas artes. Besides the state elementary schools there are also municipal and private provincial schools: teaching is compulsory from the 3rd to the 14th year of age and is, in state schools, free. This is followed by complementary teaching, given by evening and industrial schools. Secondary education has been represented, since 1926, by a single type of school, the Institutos nacionales, which only in the last two classes, of the six of which they are made up, are distinguished in a literary section and a scientific section. After the first three years you take the exam for the “elementary baccalaureate”, after the other three that for the “reválida, in front of a commission composed of three university professors and two middle schools, one from the Institutos nacionales and the other from private schools of the same degree. In fact, there is also an average private teaching, which is thus closely linked to the programs and control of the public school. There are 11 universities: Madrid, Salamanca, Valladolid, Zaragoza, Oviedo, Santiago de Compostela, Barcelona, ​​Valencia, Seville, Granada, Murcia. There are five faculties: law (5 years of course), medicine (7 years), pharmacy (5 years), philosophy and literature (4 years), science (4 years): but most universities have only a few. There are also three high schools of commerce (Escuelas de altos estudios mercantiles) in Madrid, Barcelona and Bilbao, and two high schools of architecture in Madrid and Barcelona.

Spain Economy and Trade