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Spain

Outside the EU

Updated 09/2012

Does your enterprise take advantage of opportunities to do business in other countries? The global economy: competitive and changing. A great many enterprises engage in economic activities in various countries around the world. Small and medium enterprises are increasingly present in different countries. There are wonderful opportunities in the European Union and beyond.

States establish the regulations for international trade in order to preserve their own economic interests and those of their enterprises.

To do business with countries outside the EU you must bear in mind: the general regulations of international trade, the international trade regulations of the European Union and those which may be applied by states not belonging to the EU:

- The World Trade Organization promotes freedom of international trade for the benefit of all. In particular in the realm of goods, services and the protection of intellectual property. The main international treaties governing international trade are signed by the 157 Member States. They have been signed by the European Union.

- The European Union establishes a common framework for the international trade of the Member States with countries not belonging to the EU. This common framework is applied by all Member States, including Spain.

- Meanwhile, each country not belonging to the European Union has its own international trade regulations.

In general, the regulations for international trade govern in each case: depending on: the country of origin, destination, the goods, service or investment. Consideration must be given to the corresponding conditions in each case.

Legal requirements

Spain applies the Community framework for foreign trade as it belongs to the Customs Union, together with the other Member States.

International trade: Goods

Exports and imports of products are in general unrestricted in Spain. There are exceptions: for certain products consideration must be given to a special schedule. This establishes conditions or limits. These may be of various kinds:

  • Prior authorisation from the national authority.
  • Oversight: requirement to inform or notify the public authority regarding the export or import.
  • Product Certification: to guarantee that certain quality requirements are fulfilled, products are inspected and certified by the competent authority.

The different schedules are applied in accordance with the products and/or the corresponding country of origin/destination. The main limitations apply to agricultural, textile and steelmaking products, weapons and defence materials. Depending on the country there are differences as to whether the country of origin/destination is or is not a WTO member.

In some cases goods which are exported or imported must pass through quality controls. The State SOIVRE services distributed nationwide perform these and advise enterprises.

The EU may have established taxes or tariffs for imports of certain products:

States may establish measures to protect competition. In some cases these may violate international regulations. Companies can serve notice of this and call for compensatory measures to be adopted. There is in particular a guide regarding this issue for small and medium enterprises.

International Trade: Services

The provision of services involves undertaking non-material or intangible actions, for example engineering plans or legal advice. Services are very different from goods or produce. This explains why there are different legal regulations governing the international trade in services.

The Member States of the World Trade Organisation have signed a specific treaty in this regard, the "General Agreement on Trade in Services". The treaty is flexible: it allows each State to establish the degree of liberalisation which it grants to other states in the realm of services. Both horizontal liberalisation measures, in other words for all services in general, and those specific to each individual service sector.

Services are a particularly significant sector of the economy in Europe and Spain, and are likewise of importance in foreign trade.

Extensive information about exports and imports of services (significance, standards, requirements, recommendations for service exporters, etc.) is available via the following links:

Particular mention should be made of the promotion of tourism by people from other countries to Spain undertaken by the Spanish Government (Central Authority) and the Autonomous Communities, or Regional Governments.

Foreign Trade: Investments

In the European Union and in Spain parties are free to make investments or transfer capital from or to other countries.

Enterprises which invest or transfer capital abroad are obliged to declare these investments or capital transfers. These declarations are for statistical and administrative purposes.

Spain may establish conditions, limits or bans on international investments or capital transfers if this is decided within the context of an international organisation to which it belongs, for example when sanctions are imposed on a country or individuals for various reasons. Likewise for reasons of defence, security or public order.

For further information or to perform procedures via the Internet:

Support for international investments and trade

The Spanish public authorities place considerable importance on international trade, and to this end promote a great many initiatives and programmes to support enterprises in this field of international business: promotion, training, financial support, consultancy and other aspects. Discover more via the following links.

 

Administrative procedures

Administrative procedures can be performed online or otherwise in person at the relevant offices. Consult the following links:

Resources

Help & advice

Help & advice

E-mail a business organisation near you

The EU runs a network (Enterprise Europe Network) of local business organisations in most European countries that may be able to help you.

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