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US-Spain Trade Relations: Friendship Beyond Military Alliance
The Start of a Prosperous Trade Relation

Spain is considered to be the third largest nation in the European continent. It occupies most of the Iberian Peninsula. The country remained predominantly agricultural in the 18th and 19th centuries. Industrialization was seen to start in the 1950s.

During Franco's rule, the National Industrial Institute exerted efforts for Spain to become self-sufficient industry wise. This was done by decreasing imports while expanding locally-based manufacturing of goods like petroleum, automobile and shipbuilding. Production of chemicals and petrochemicals as well as fertilizers and electricity were virtually focused on.

The stabilization program of 1959 paved the way for expansion of both foreign investment and private commerce. Spain found its way to the top but the per capita income was not at all comparable to those of the records of other European Nations. Another major slow down was seen in 1988 when unemployment rate accounted for 20% of the nation's total. This was recorded as the highest for Europe.

Industrialization actually made quick paces around the last end of the 20th century. The auto industry employs the largest portion of Spain's workforce. The iron and steel industry was on top of all metal processing businesses while chemicals, electronics, textile, shipbuilding, cement, toys, leather goods and furniture were remarkable as well. International trade in the 1980's was contributory to the faltering of the shipbuilding and the steel industries.

Cereals occupy around 60% of Spain's cultivated area. Wheat and barley, on the other hand are considered the main crops. Rainfall in the inland and southern areas are not sufficient enough to cover up the needs for farming. Due to this fact, irrigation was the source for crop-growing.

More than half of the total exports were traded with EC member countries and the United States. Early traces of trade between Spain and US were tracked from the later part of the 18th century. Friendship was further intensified by the Treaty of Madrid (also known as the Treaty of San Lorenzo). This paved the way for the US's rights on navigating the Mississippi River.

Major Exports and Imports between the United States and Spain

The major goods exported by Spain are shoes and other leather items, iron and steel products, electrical goods, refined products from petroleum, machinery and motor vehicles. Around 33% of the exports are comprised of agricultural commodities which include canned and fresh vegetables, citrus fruits, wines, canned fish and live oil. The principal imports by Spain to other countries are petroleum and basic chemicals, machinery and equipment and food products such as coffee and tea.

Its trade relations with the US were evidenced by several billions of dollars in exports and imports. As a proof to this, the US Census Bureau have already recorded data for the eight-month period ending August 2008 where US exports to Spain totaled to $8.47 billion while US imports from Spain made up an amount of $7.48 billion. For the year 2007, the following data were gathered:

  • Spanish Exports to US. The year 2007 was indeed a remarkable one for Spanish exports to US. It was not a surprise at all that the said goods totaled to $10.53 billion for the year. Of this total amount, other petroleum products sold a total of $1.51 billion or equivalent to 14.34% of the year's total. Aside from the said item, other prime commodities found on top of the charts were: medicine, dental and pharmaceutical preparations; generators, transformers and accessories; artwork, antiques, stamps and other collectibles; vegetables and preparations; other industrial machinery; wine and related products; industrial organic chemicals; and stone, sand, cement and lime. The last items made up a total of $246.02 million or 2.34% of 2007's total.
  • Spanish Imports from US. For the goods from US entering Spain, a total of $9.88 billion was recorded. Topping the list was pharmaceutical preparations which earned total sales of $1.04 billion or 10.53% of 2007's total. Other commendable products under this category were: civilian aircraft; medicinal equipment; nuts; sorghum, barley and oats; passenger cars, new and used; organic chemicals; telecommunications equipment; civilian aircraft parts and logs and lumber. Logs and lumber gained total sales of $224.91 million which is equivalent to 2.28% of the total for 2007.
  • Fastest-Growing US Exports to Spain. Commodities coming from US which are sold in Spain were gaining marks for themselves. Along this line, bodies and chassis for passenger cars earned an increase of 2,379% from 2006 or an amount of $1.047 million. Other commendable goods under this category were: wheat; steelmaking materials; oilseeds and food oils; and sorghum, barley and oats. The last items made their own stint in the market as well. With total sales of $296 million, it was ranked fifth in terms of increase at 497.79% from 2006.
  • Fastest-Growing US Imports From Spain. While US goods entering Spain made remarkable increases, Spain products sold in US made their fair share as well. As evidence to this, 49,590% increase in sales from 2006 or a total of $9.92 million belonged to coal and related fuels. Other outstanding items on the list were: copper, natural rubber and similar gums; zinc; and steelmaking and ferroalloying materials which are unmanufactured. The last commodity made up a total of 410.03 million or 503% increase from 2006.
Treaties between the United States and Spain

The trade relations between the US and Spain is probably one of the oldest recorded facts in history. In 1795, the Treaty of San Lorenzo also known as the Treaty of Madrid was made. This was to further enhance the friendship between the two nations. More popularly known then as the Pinckney's Treaty, this pact had been a key to the definition of jurisdictions between the Spanish colonies in the United States.

In order to provide a bond that will strengthen the comradeship of the two nations, another pact was signed in 1902. Entered into force by April 14, 1903, the Treaty of Friendship and General Relations made things even clearer for foreign trade between Spain and US. The said agreement focused on the following aspects:

  • On Friendship. This was geared to a more peaceful and viable friendship between both nations. No person shall be exempted from the rules in order to focus on an atmosphere that could lead to future trade relations. The Americans and the Spaniards felt the dire need to intensify their trade and only through the provisions of this treaty could they start an exchange which will be beneficial on both sides.
  • On General Relations. Just like any other friendship treaties entered into by the United States, this aspect focused on navigation and commerce. Pertinent discussions on the rules of investment by foreign companies and nationals were included. Navigation wise, they focused on free entry of nationals on both sides without prejudice to the resources, people and buildings found in the latter. This was further construed to signify disallow discrimination as well.
The Spanish American War

Before these two nations became allies, they were first seen to be having war against each other. This was actually the reason why they have to undergo a series of pacts that will help them establish a new-found comradeship in each other. Despite the presence of the Treaty of Madrid n 1795, a century after, another war broke out.

In 1898, the Spanish American War became a hindrance to the 103-year old friendship of these two countries. The root of the problem was actually seen on facts found on American newspapers regarding the Spanish-Cuban War. The press indicated therein Spanish brutality, which made the people of US sympathize with Cuba. On the economic side, US sincerely believed that Cuba had to transform and has a potential to grow in the world market. The war reached other nations like the Philippines. Only the so-called Treaty of Paris was elemental in bringing back the respect between Spain and the United States.

The Fate of US-Spain Trade Relations

Through time, rulers come and go in different nations. As US recently elected for a new President, the Kingdom of Spain may be governed by another aristocrat as well. With the good forces behind their alliance, there is no fear about what lies ahead of them in the future. Opposition groups may at one point, falter the relations. However, the old camaraderie will always be preserved.

Support in the present government and those that will come ahead are vital in both nations. Welcoming new leaders is a key in order to have a brighter future in global trade. There is always that desire on both parties to uphold what they had built in the past and what they will build for the future. The triumph of one is the victory of both.

More things may come and go. Disputes may always arouse along the rules of trade. This is factual. The only way to strengthen the bond is by depending on each other's abilities. The trade relations between the US and Spain is a good example of sailing through the tides with rocky shores found around. They have eliminated the remnants of war, thus, they are geared to better years, if not centuries ahead.

US-Spain Trade References

Note: Trade statistics, industry links, economic projections and global business resources on this page have been compiled from hundreds of trade related websites, government guides and resources on the Internet. We provide this valuable information for industrial suppliers, manufacturers, exporters and importers seeking to enter or expland business opportunities in Spain.

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Spain's major industries include textiles and apparel (including footwear), food and beverages, metals and metal manufactures, chemicals, shipbuilding, automobiles, machine tools, and tourism.

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