Exporting Spanish companies improved their prospects of increasing sales abroad in the fourth quarter of 2016. This is reflected in the Synthetic Index of Export Activity (ISAE), which rose by 4.7 points over the third quarter to 21.1 points. The Short-term Survey on Exports also reflects that the index increased slightly compared with the same quarter of 2015 (20.9 points).
The ISAE summarizes the information provided by the companies surveyed regarding the performance of their order backlog in the reference quarter and the outlook at three and 12 months. This index may move within a range of -100 to +100. Positive values indicate a better perception of actual and/or expected export activity. It is a balance index; that is to say, it is based on the difference between companies who expect an upward trend and those that expect a downward trend.
In this case, the ISAE gives a result of 15.4 for the present quarter (8.2 in the third quarter), 23.7 for the prospect at three months (24 points in the third quarter), and 38.8 for the 12-month prospect (36.1 in the third quarter). Prospects for the present quarter and for the next 12 months have improved while the three-month prospect has worsened slightly.
Export prices and commercial profit margin show a slightly positive trend compared with the previous quarter according to the perception of Spanish companies. In both cases, the percentage of those expecting an upward trend has grown while the percentage of those who say the trend is stable or downward has shrunk in the fourth quarter of 2016.
Factors in export activity
The three most mentioned factors as a positive influence are the performance of external demand (43%), right-sized human resources (25.9%), and competition in terms of quality (23.3%). And the factors most mentioned as a negative influence are international price competition (52.8%), raw material prices (41.4%), and oil prices (31.8%).
In terms of the trend in the hiring of personnel for export activities, stability continues to be the most commonly aired opinion. The indices are positive in all cases and show little change from the previous quarter. The score for the export-related job creation index for the quarter (7.6) is up by 1.4 points, while the score for expectation to hire in the next three months is up by nearly one point (7.9), while for the next 12 months it is down by nearly one point (14.3).
By export areas, the balance index score has improved over the third quarter of 2016 for all destinations barring North America (12.9) and Oceania (zero). Something similar occurs with export prospects at three months, although in this case the index is only worse for Oceania.
The export destinations for the next 12 months with the best prospects are: France (46%) and Germany (39.8%). These are followed by the UK (24.1%), Italy (22.5%), Portugal (21.3%), the USA (21.2%), Mexico (12.2%), Morocco (11.3%) and Poland (10.4%).