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Spain

Spain

Population 46.4 million
GDP 25843 US$
A2
Country risk assessment
A1
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Synthesis

major macro economic indicators

  2014 2015  2016 (e) 2017 (f)
GDP growth (%) 1.4 3.2 3.2 2.9
Inflation (yearly average) (%) -0.2 -0.6 -0.3 1.5
Budget balance (% GDP) -6.0 -5.1 -4.6 -3.6
Current account balance (% GDP) 1.1 1.4 2.1 1.7
Public debt (% GDP) 100.4 99.8 101.3 102.1

 

(f) Forecast

STRENGTHS

  • Reform drive (labour market, banking sector, insolvency, etc.)
  • Improved competitiveness and strengthened export sectors
  • Improvement in the financial situation of businesses
  • High-quality infrastructure
  • Significant tourism potential

WEAKNESSES

  • Still high levels of private and public debt, very negative net external position
  • Duality of labour market, high level of structural unemployment
  • Large number of relatively unproductive small companies
  • Fragmented political landscape, unity of the country threatened by separatist movements

RISK ASSESSMENT

The rate of growth will likely slow

Growth remained strong in 2016, exceeding expectations. Political uncertainty and deleveraging in the private sector have had little impact on domestic demand, which has remained the main driver of activity. Exports of goods and services, supported by competitiveness gains and an excellent tourist season, have performed well. But imports continued to grow at a relatively steady pace, which explains the weak contribution of foreign trade to growth.

Business should remain buoyant in 2017, while slowing down somewhat. Consumption (58% of GDP) is expected to be less sustained, due in particular to lower growth in employment. Other stimuli will no longer be in play, such as lower energy prices and lower taxes. Inflation is expected to rise as a result of the gradual rise in oil prices, despite remaining limited by the persistence of unused production capacity and wage moderation. The unemployment rate should continue to decline but should still reach almost 18% by 2017. Investment is expected to slow down only slightly, reflecting an ongoing accommodative monetary policy and strong profit margins.

Back in positive territory in 2013, the current account continues to post surpluses despite the recovery in domestic demand. This result reflects the competitiveness gains achieved through the reduction in the cost of labour and the fact that companies have redirected part of their sales to foreign markets, as well as through lower prices of imported energy, although their development is now beginning to reverse.

 

Businesses and banks are stronger but public debt remains high

Exporters were able to recover very early in the crisis and those targeting the domestic market have gradually recovered, including in the construction sector. The reduction in wage costs and the disappearance of non-profitable companies have enabled companies to return to profitability. In addition, their debt declined (132% of GDP in mid-2016 compared to 161% in 2012). Finally, insolvencies have continued to diminish (-20% in 2016, after -22% in 2015).

Many measures have been implemented (including several waves of mergers) to bring the banking sector, affected by the bursting of a housing bubble and the recession, afloat. The country emerged successfully in January 2014 from the European aid plan that helped its recapitalisation efforts. The solvency of the sector has improved as has the quality of its portfolio. The weakness of lending activity and the prolonged decline in interest rates still have a negative impact on its profitability. The privatisation of some banks has lagged and the defeasance structure remains loss-making. In addition, Banco Popular Español SA is one of the five European banks that achieved the worst results following the stress tests carried out by the European Banking Authority in July 2016.

Although it has improved significantly, as evidenced by the sharp decline in borrowing costs on the bond market since the crisis, sovereign risk remains significant. In August 2016, the European executive, which ultimately decided against imposing sanctions on countries that failed to achieve budgetary targets, granted Spain a further two years to bring its deficit below 3% of GDP (i.e. until 2018). The public debt ratio has stabilised at a high level (about 100% of GDP).

 

A fragmented parliament but the end of the political impasse

After two legislative elections without a clear majority (December 2015 and June 2016) and several months of a political stalemate, the conservative leader Mariano Rajoy was finally reappointed as the head of the Spanish government at the end of October 2016. The latter was able to obtain the confidence of the parliament only through the abstention of a part of the Socialist MPs and is leading a minority government. He will have the task of maintaining the strict fiscal policies in place (he has however yielded to the condition imposed by the Socialists to raise the minimum wage) and consolidate the recovery underway. This will have brought an end to ten months of political paralysis but the government will remain fragile during the four years of his term of office, with Mr Rajoy being forced to negotiate each of his measures. He will also have to deal with the separatist movement in Catalonia. Uncertainty has persisted in this region since the regional elections held here in September 2015 which saw the victory, in terms of the number of seats, of the pro-independence camp. These parties were weakened for a time because of different ideologies. The Catalan president nevertheless rebuilt their unity, winning a vote of confidence in the regional parliament in September 2016. The latter plans to convene a referendum on independence in September 2017, irrespective of the position of the Spanish government.

 

Last update : January 2017

Payment

 

The Spanish law of late payments in commercial transactions (Ley contra la morosidad en operaciones comerciales) states a general payment terms, which are generally unfulfilled by the companies as well as by the government.   The usual terms of payment in commercial transactions exceed the legal terms, being globally accepted by market players. 

About the payment means, the bill of exchange is used for commercial transactions in Spain. In the event of default, it offers creditors certain safeguards, including access to the “exchange procedure” (juicio cambiario) introduced by the civil procedure rules under which, based on his appraisal of the documents submitted, a first instance judge (juzgado de primera instancia)will check the “exchange title” has correctly been set up and then will order the payment from the debtor of the principal amount, the late interests and costs, within 10 days and will order a seizure for security (embargo preventivo) on the debtor’s assets up to the outstanding amount. The debtor has 10 days to dispute the ruling.

 

Without payment or opposition in the prescribed time, the judge will order enforcement measures and if necessary, the judicial representative will carry out attachment.

 

Where a claim is contested, a court hearing is held to examine both parties’ arguments and a judgement handed down within 10 additional days of said hearing. This is the legal times but really there are delays due to the Court doesn´t carry out this deadline.

 

Widely accepted though somewhat difficult to obtain, bill of exchange guaranteed by a bank limits the risk of payment default by offering creditor additional recourse to the endorser of the bill of exchange.

 

The cheque offers similar legal safeguards under the “exchange procedure” (juicio cambiario), in the event of default. The same is true of the promissory note (pagaré), which, like bill of exchange and cheque, is an instrument enforceable by law and, being unpaid, is also recorded in the RAI (Registro de Aceptationes Impagadas).

 

An outgrowth of the Centre for Interbank Cooperation, the RAI is the most important registry at the national level, where the payment defaults, above 300 €, of commercial companies, are recorded and where banks and other deposit institutions can check a company’s payment record before extending credit.

 

Electronic transfers via the SWIFT network, widely used by Spanish banks, are a quick, fairly reliable, and cheap instrument, provided the purchaser, in good faith, orders payment. If the buyer fails to order a transfer, the legal remedy consists in instituting ordinary proceedings, or summary proceedings based simply on an unpaid invoice (according Spanish law in order to start this proceedings It should submit original documents: invoices, delivery notes, CMRs, contracts…)

 

Debt collection

 

Special clauses included in the commercial contract, the applicable rate since 31st December 2004, is the interest rate applied by the European Central Bank in its most recent refinancing operation performed prior to the first calendar day of the half year concerned, fixed 8,05 percentage points.

Semi-annually, the Finance Minister publishes the rate thus determined in theBoletín Oficial del Estado.

 

Where there is a lack of settlement agreement with the customer, the creditor will initiate a legal collection process by reference to the law on civil procedure (ley de Enjuiciamento civil) which came into force on 8 January 2001  amendment by:

 

- The Act 13/2009 on 3 November 2009 on the reform of the judicial procedure (ley de reforma de la legislación procesal), in force on 4 May 2010.

This Act granted a higher competency to the judicial representatives (secretarios judiciales) and increased the threshold of monitory and verbal proceedings.

 

- The Act. 37/2011 on 10 October 2011 (ley de medidas de agilización procesal) effective as of 31st October 2011

 

The rules cut the time taken up by litigation significantly and gave oral arguments priority over written submissions – the cornerstone of the previous system – even though the authentication of large numbers of documents remains a requirement.

 

Besides the “exchange procedure”, a seller unable to settle with a buyer out of court may enforce his right to payment through the civil procedure (juicio declarativo), divided into ordinary proceedings (juicio ordinario)for claims over 6,000 € and oral proceedings (juicio verbal),simplified system,for smaller claims.

 

The aim of this legislation  was to speed up delivery of enforcement orders by reducing and simplifying the stages of the old procedure.

 

The claimant has to explain the facts on which he exercises its right and to support all case documents, in original or certified copies by public Notary, when he files its initial petition.

Prior to the investigation of the case, the judge will summon the parties, during a previous hearing (audiencia previa) just in ordinary proceeding, to attempt at conciliation. In default, the lawsuit will be pursued.

 

In addition, for monetary, liquid and overdue claims whatever is the outstanding amount, since 31st October 2011 (previously up to 250,000 €), the creditor now benefits from a more flexible special process, the monitory or injunctive procedure, named “juicio monitorio”.

 

This summary procedure does not require the presence of a barrister or solicitor to file a “petición inicial” prepared with a pre-printed form and submitted to the judge of first instance (juzgado de primera instancia) where the debtor is located, and who may, after reviewing the supporting documents, order the debtor to pay within 20 days.

 

Without debtor’s answer, the judicial representative will inform the judge in order to confirm the decision which decides in favour of the initial request. The judicial representative will hand down a ruling stating the monitory proceedings closed and passes it on the creditor in order to allow contact the Enforcement Office.

 

If the debtor disputes the ruling with motivated arguments into a written statement signed by a barrister and a solicitor, the procedure has to be change to ordinary or oral procedure, depending on  the outstanding amount.

 

Established in April 2003, the judicial tax relating to commercial companies, applies, since April 2011, to any sort of civil procedure and contains a fix rate depending on the sort of procedure filed (rate from 100 € to 1,200 €), as well as a variable rate depending on the amount involved (from 1 € to 1 million € a 0, 5 % of the amount and above 1 million € a 0, 25 % of the amount) with a maximum of 10,000 €. Since February 2015 individuals must not pay this tax. 

Insolvency trend Spain
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