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Spain’s Strongest Sectors

Although people often speak of Spain’s fiestas and siestas, its economy is worth a mention, too: it is the 14th largest economy worldwide and the 4th in the EU. Last year, Spain saw its economy grow by 2.5%, making it the fastest growing of the main eurozone economies.

Spain, Madrid
Spain, Madrid

What is driving this economic growth?

Aerospace and Defense

The Spanish aerospace industry is currently ranked 8th worldwide and 5th in Europe, making it a leader in Europe’s aeronautic activity. Since 2000, the country has seen a 65% growth in aerospace employment, and the sector’s 2017 revenue totaled $USD 11.18 billion. Prioritization of R&D is characteristic of the Spanish aerospace and defense industries – both dedicate more than 10% of their turnover to R&D.


Spain’s impressive tourism industry has, of course, played an important role. 2018 was a record-breaking year, with over 82.6 million tourist visits – 0.9% more than in 2017 – bringing in €89,678 million. The tourism industry is the largest employer in the country, recently surpassing the construction sector to employ 13.7% of the working population. The sector has produced big names such as Amadeus, a travel-oriented technology company, which was named one of Forbes top-10 global software companies.


When it comes to automobile manufacturing, Spain is a leader both regionally (2nd in Europe) and globally (8th in the world). The industry accounts for 10% of the GDP as well as 18% of the country’s exports. From 2012-2016, the automotive manufacturing industry grew by 45%, and current revenue is estimated at €100 billion. Approximately €4 billion per year is being invested in expansion and modernization, including €1.5 billion in R&D&I by auto-parts manufacturers.

Life Sciences

In terms of its scientific capability, Spain is ranked 10th globally, and 5th for scientific production within the EU15. Spain is home to over 800 public and private hospitals supported by modern research centers. The growth in biotechnology, as well as in science and technology parks and research facilities, makes Spain a promising destination for life science companies. The industry is supported by the Spanish government, which provides incentives, including low-interest credits, to new and growing life science businesses.


The Spanish Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) sector is one of the most important in Europe, housing more than 34,000 ICT businesses and comprising 4.3% of the GDP. Spain has proven to be a leader in the implementation of the Digital Agenda for Europe, and the ICT sector is strongly backed by the Spanish government. Its skilled labor force, along with its competitive prices and its privileged access to Latin American markets, make Spain a desirable location for investment in ICT.

Chemical Sector

The chemical industry in Spain grew 27% from 2007-2017 and produced €63.1 billion in 2018. More than half of national production is exported, totaling more than €35,354 million in sales. Chemical manufacturing is predicted to grow by an average of 4.5% annually through 2030, and investment in the sector represents 25% of Spain’s total R&D, making this a particularly attractive sector for future investment.

Do you work in one of these sectors? Are you looking to work your way into the Spanish market? Gedeth can help! We believe in the potential of the Spanish economy, and we are dedicated to helping others experience that potential, too. We’d love to hear from you!

Stay tuned for our second post about Spain’s most important export sectors!