In this page: FDI in Figures | What to consider if you invest in Spain | Protection of Foreign Investment | Procedures Relative to Foreign Investment | Office Real Estate and Land Ownership | Investment Aid | Investment Opportunities | Sectors Where Investment Opportunities Are Fewer | Finding Assistance For Further Information
After falling as a result of the financial crisis, Spanish FDIs recovered in recent years due to an increase in competitiveness and investor confidence in the country. Following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic that hit the Iberian state hard, FDI inflows totalled USD 9.7 billion in 2021: although increasing compared to one year earlier (+72%), they were still much lower than the pre-crisis level (USD 17.4 billion in 2019 – UNCTAD’s 2022 World Investment Report). In the same year, FDI stock reached USD 819.7 billion. The industry attracting the most foreign investment in 2021 was ‘electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply’, followed by investment in ‘specialised construction activities’, ‘programming, consultancy and related activities’, and ‘retail trade, except motor vehicles’. As for the countries where this investment came from, this list was led by Luxembourg, France, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, the U.S. and Germany (data by the State Secretariat for Trade at the Spanish Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism). The Region of Madrid posted the highest investment volume over the year, ahead of Catalonia, the Basque Country, Andalusia, and the Region of Valencia. Overall, Spain was the fourth country in the world in 2021 in terms of the most greenfield projects received from foreign direct investment (fDi Intelligence). According to the latest figures from OECD, FDI inflows to Spain reached USD 21.3 billion in the first half of 2022, compared to USD 14.4 billion in the same period one year earlier (+47.9%). Between January and November 2022, Spain attracted FDI projects worth an estimated USD 32.8 billion, up by 23.9% from the same period of 2021, according to the latest figures from fDi Markets.
The country’s strengths in terms of FDI attractiveness include a restructured financial sector, the boom in tourism, its highly efficient transport network, its development of renewable energies and the cultural proximity to Latin America, with the presence of a number of Spanish multinational companies. Spain also aspires to become one of the world's key research actors. On the other hand, the country has high levels of private and public debt, a very negative net external position and a high level of structural unemployment. However, Spain suspended the FDI liberalisation regime and government authorisation is now required for direct investments of more than 10% of a Spanish company's capital made by residents of non-EU or EFTA countries (including the UK) in certain sectors, including critical infrastructure and technologies, media and food safety. Spain ranks 63rd out of 82 countries in the Economist Business Environment ranking and 36th out of 63 in the World Competitiveness Ranking. Furthermore, it is ranked 51st out of 176 economies in the 2023 Index of Economic Freedom.
|Foreign Direct Investment||2020||2021||2022|
|FDI Inward Flow (million USD)||17,948||21,957||34,811|
|FDI Stock (million USD)||804,418||782,903||787,311|
|Number of Greenfield Investments*||558||849||861|
|Value of Greenfield Investments (million USD)||13,626||32,652||44,588|
Source: UNCTAD, Latest data available.
Note: * Greenfield Investments are a form of Foreign Direct Investment where a parent company starts a new venture in a foreign country by constructing new operational facilities from the ground up.
|Main Investing Countries||2020, in %|
|Main Invested Sectors||2020, in %|
|Financial and insurance services||23.2|
|Information and Communication||22.8|
|Transportation and storage||7.0|
|Wholesale and retail trade||6.8|
Source: Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Tourism, Latest data available.
The country's main strong points are:
The country's weak points are
The Re-industrialization Aid and Industrial Competitiveness Program 2019 is intended to encourage new industrial plants either by transfer of productive activity from another previously existing site or creating a new establishment, as well as increasing production capacity through the introduction of new lines of production in existing facilities. It aims also at developing the “Connected Industry 4.0 technologies”.
|Country Comparison For the Protection of Investors||Spain||OECD||United States||Germany|
|Index of Transaction Transparency*||7.0||6.5||7.0||5.0|
|Index of Manager’s Responsibility**||6.0||5.3||9.0||5.0|
|Index of Shareholders’ Power***||6.0||7.3||9.0||5.0|
Source: The World Bank - Doing Business, Latest data available.
Although the Spanish system is liberalised for foreign investment, certain sectors require prior authorisation from the corresponding competent public governmental body for investment activity to start, including in relation to:
The EU via FEDER.
The Official Credits Institute (ICO),
Le Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness.
The governments of the regions and municipalities also finance the incentives for foreign investments.
In the energy sector, the government plan for renewable energies represents an opportunity for investments in technological innovation. The biotechnology sector is developing faster in Spain than in other EU countries. The investments in this sector are growing at a rate of more than 25% per year, making Spain the fourth biggest contributor in the world in scientific production in the biotechnology sector. According to the Spanish Institute for External Trade, the chemical, pharmaceutical and plastics industry represent great investment opportunities.
In the agrarian sector, Spain has become the largest European producer of organic foodstuff. It is one of the top markets in the EU for legumes, nuts and sea products.
Spain has become one of the most attractive destinations for call centres. It has attracted several multinationals (Avis, Hewlett-Packard, Citigroup, etc.) thanks to a labour cost 30% less expensive than in other European countries. R&D in the Information Technology (IT) and data processing (software development, artificial intelligence, supercomputers, etc.) is also one of the spearheads of Spain. Finally, numerous investments in property for development of tourism infrastructure are possible, even though some tourist areas are saturated.
The Spanish government retains control in the following sectors:
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Latest Update: September 2023