According to the Central Intelligence Agency, Spain's imports from the rest of the world were estimated to be in the region of $364.9 billion in 2011, an increase of $44.8 billion from 2010. The country is 15th in the world in terms of import volumes with $364.9 billion worth of Spanish goods and services in 2011 (CIA, 2012).
Spain's main import items
According to the World Bank (2012), Spain's imports over the last five years have fluctuated between 26 per cent and 34 per cent of its GDP. This includes the value of all goods and services received from the countries of the rest of the world and comprises all elements of such transactions ranging from the actual product, to the value of transporting the good, its insurance, any royalty fees and licence fees. According to the country's Ministerio de Industria, Spain's main items of import include heavy machinery, fuel, chemicals, partly finished goods, food and a variety of consumer goods (Trading Economics, 2012) in addition to measuring and medical control instruments (CIA, 2012). The country's imports per month over the previous five years period, up to November 2012, are depicted in figure 1.
Figure 1. Spain's monthly imports. Adapted from Trading Economics (2012) and the Ministerio de Industria
Spain is currently exporting more goods and services than it is importing and accordingly is now running at a trade deficit (Economist, 2012). Spain is a large importer of agricultural produce (Deiters and Fritz, 2010). Due to the arid nature of the Spanish landscape and the relative scarcity of water in the region, the country also imports a significant volume of "water-intensive low-economic value crops" such as wheat, maize and soybeans, also known as "virtual water trading" (Aldaya et al. 2010). The country's acquisition of these agricultural goods is supplemented by the importing of fruits such as apples and grapes, as well as processed varieties such as fruit juices, from Italy. Though Spain retains its own plentiful production supply of olive oil from fellow Mediterranean country Greece (Deiters and Fritz, 2010). Spain's prominence across various manufacturing industries has seen it import a significant number of "parts and components" (approx. $46 billion in 2007), culminating in a cumulative growth rate of 10% per year and constituting 32% of the wider category of machinery and equipment. The increasing influence of the Chinese in establishing their country as an import partner with Spain, particularly in the area of consumer goods, is evidenced by the activity of large enterprises such as clothing importer Freebase whose imported goods from China are available in 2000 stores across the country (Business Week, 2012).