In 2012, Spain was Australia’s 23rd largest merchandise trading partner. Trade in 2012 reached A$3.51 billion. Australian merchandise exports to Spain were around A$625 million, including coal, zinc ores and concentrates. Australian imports from Spain in 2012 stood at around A$2.8 billion, with the biggest import items being ships, boats and goods vehicles.1
Bilateral relations between Australia and Spain are steadily expanding. Modern Spain offers significant potential as a partner for Australia, both in the business sphere and in the field of international relations. Similarly, Australia’s economic size and strength, and our global and regional role, are increasingly being recognised by Spain as it seeks to play a more substantial role in the Asia Pacific region.
2014 is an important year for EU-Australia relations. There will be an unprecedented stream of high level visitors from the EU institutions that will help to advance cooperation in key areas such as foreign and security policy, economic relations and cooperation on science and technology etc. The G20 Summit in Brisbane in November will also bring European Union leaders to Australia.
Australia’s seat on the United Nations’ Security Council will mean greater engagement with the EU on global issues such as non-proliferation, counter-terrorism, maritime security and counter piracy, and will bring the EU and Australia together on the world stage, dealing with issues both in Australia’s neighbourhood and in the wider world.2
EU – Australia Trade
- In 2012, the EU was Australia’s second-largest trading partner (in goods and services) after China, with total trade worth $A82 billion
- The EU was Australia’s third-largest merchandise trading partner after China and Japan, with two-way trade totalling $A59.7 billion or 12 per cent of Australia’s total trade in goods
- The EU was Australia’s largest partner for trade in services in 2012, when two-way trade in services between the EU and Australia was worth $A22 billion. This represents one-fifth of Australia’s total trade in services3
Australia’s economic presence in the EU
The EU is the second major destination for Australian foreign investment after the United States, reaching $A392 billion at the end of 2012 – 30 per cent of total Australian investment abroad.
From an EU perspective, Australia is the EU’s:
- 15th largest partner in two-way goods trade
- 10th largest partner in two-way services trade, and
- 9th largest foreign direct investment partner4
Spanish infrastructure companies are increasingly significant players in the Australian infrastructure, water and renewable energies sectors. They are prominent participants in the internationalisation of the Australian construction sector. Most of Spain’s infrastructure companies now have a presence in Australia. Sacyr Vallehermoso and Tecnicas Reunidas won a major desalination project in Western Australia in 2008 and have since been contracted to double the capacity of the original plant. In 2008 Acciona won a desalination contract in Adelaide; it is also the lead partner in the consortium selected to build the A$1.5 billion Legacy Way tunnel in Brisbane. OHL and Acciona have won projects for post-flood reconstruction in far North Queensland. Spanish builder ACS won significant contracts in 2013 to excavate Sydney’s North West Rail Link and to extend its work at Fortescue Metals Solomon hub iron ore project.
Spanish firms have also won contracts to build renewable resource infrastructure, including Gas Natural Fenosa and Acciona with investments in windfarms. The Waubra windfarm, operated by Acciona was the largest in the southern hemisphere at the time of construction. Australian investment in Spain was worth A$3.8 billion in 2012. The Australian geothermal company Petratherm is involved in the Madrid Geothermal District Heating project. Worley Parsons is partnering Spanish companies in solar projects in the Iberian peninsula and North Africa, and Bovis Lend Lease has managed major projects in Spain in partnership with local infrastructure players, including construction of a new airport terminal in Barcelona, redevelopment of Barcelona’s bullring, and oil company Repsol’s new headquarters in Madrid. Macquarie Bank has a number of varied investments in Spain and maintains an office in Madrid, to promote both its investment and advisory functions. In June 2013 RMIT’s post-graduate architectural school opened in Barcelona. Berkely Resources (headquartered in Perth) has established an office near the town of Salamanca.
The Australia-Spain Business Association is headquartered in Madrid with branches in Barcelona and La Coruña (Galicia). The Spanish Government and Catalan regional Government maintain trade promotion offices in Sydney, where Spanish-Australian Chamber of Commerce, La Camara, is very active. The Australian Trade Commission (Austrade) is the Australian Government’s trade, investment and education promotion agency. Through their global network, they help Australian companies succeed in international business and attract productive foreign direct investment into Australia. Austrade has an office in Madrid and is also responsible for the Portuguese market.5
Spanish companies currently operating in Australia include Danona, Ferrovial Airports Australia, Freixenet, Lladró/Nao, Astralpool, Banco Santander Central Hispano, Borges, several wine importers, Agencia EFE, Acerinox, EDV, EHN Oceanía, Fagor industrial, Gamesa Energy of Australia, Ikusi Australia NZ, Izar, KA Internacional, Mango, Maison Decor (Grupo Pepe Peñalver) MVM Rail, MP Asia Pacifico, Pescanova, Soler y Palau, and UE Explosivos.
Spanish enrolments in Australian education institutions have grown over the past five years, a trend sustained through the financial crisis. The number of Spaniards enrolled to study in Australia on Student Visas grew by 47.5% from 2011 to 2012 reaching a total of 3127.6
Australian-Spanish trade 2008-14 fact sheet (45kb pdf)
- Skilled multilingual workforce
- Australian-Hispanic economic relations:
- Australian companies in Latin America
- Important web links