Trade and Market Information
Spain is a member of the European Union, the WTO and the OECD. It is also a signatory of the Kyoto Protocol, the Washington Convention, the Basel Convention, the Montreal Protocol and the International Coffee Agreement of 2001.
The country applies, since it is an EU Member State, the customs standards of the European Union, which advocates a relatively free trade system. The import of goods into Spain is therefore very limited, except for some highly regulated categories, such as agricultural products. Thus the presence of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in the latter must appear on the packaging, and it is now forbidden to allow beef fed on hormones onto European territory, following the ‘mad cow’ affair. Furthermore, the European Union applies a principle of prevention: at the slightest doubt about merchandise, import is refused. From a tariff perspective, trade between EU countries is not subject to any customs duty, unlike trade with countries outside the EU, which is taxed on average at 4%.
At the administrative level, a commercial invoice, a declaration of common law and of trade in goods for intra-Community countries must be submitted to the customs office. Countries outside the European Union trading with Spain must also complete an entry summary declaration aimed at securing more international trade, as recommended by the World Trade Organization under the Import Control System.
The Spanish distribution sector has a varied landscape, with local shops, which take precedence, hypermarkets and discount outlets – the latter have proliferated since the crisis and the sharp decline in consumer purchasing power. The major groups in the market are El Corte, Carrefour, Inditex and Eroski. The transport of goods is mainly (80%) carried out by road, followed by sea, with 450 million tonnes transported annually. The most important Spanish ports are: Bahia de Algeciras, Barcelona, Valencia, Bilbao and Tarragona. Air freight is mainly focused on Madrid and Barcelona. Spanish industry is very active in the metallurgy, cement and chemicals sectors. Shipbuilding, automobiles, heavy equipment and railway equipment production are also dynamic areas.
Employment Legislation in Spain
In Spain, the legal duration of the working week is 40 hours, with a monthly minimum wage of EUR 600. Retirement age has been 67 since 2013: this stipulation shall be in force for a period of 15 years. The employer pays social security contributions at a rate of 29.9%, with 6.35% paid by the employee.
Trade unions have a strong presence in Spain (there are more than 40); however, only 10% of the workforce are union members.
Intellectual Property Regime in Spain
|Type of rights||Legislation||Validity of protection||Agreements signed|
|Patents||Ley de Patentes de 1986||20 years||-Patent Cooperation Treaty
– Strasbourg Agreement Concerning the International Patent Classification
|Brands||Ley de marcas de 2001||10 years,renewable||– Nice Agreement on the International Classification of Goods and Services
-The Madrid Agreement concerning the International Registration of Marks
|Designs||Ley de protection Juridica del Diseno Inductrial de 2003||5 years, renewable for up to 25 years|
|Reproduction rights||1995 Legislative Royal Decree||70 years after the author’s death||– Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works
– Rome Convention for the Protection of Performers
– WIPO Copyright Treaty
– Convention for the Protection of Producers of Phonograms
|Industrial designs||Royal Decree of 1929||20 years|
Spain Political Data
The head of the Spanish state is the King (Juan Carlos), who is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces; the King’s role is principally ceremonial. He appoints the Prime Minister, who is the leader of the majority party. The Prime Minister (Mariano Rajoy) holds genuine executive power and is the head of the government. In parallel, legislative power resides in the Cortes Generales (Parliament), which consists of two chambers:
- The Senate, with 264 members elected by universal suffrage for 4 years
- The Congress of Deputies, with between 300 and 400 members elected by universal suffrage for 4 years.
Politics in Spain is dominated by two parties, the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party and the People’s Party. These two parties eclipse the other smaller political groupings (IU, PCE, CIU, PNV, etc.).