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“In the last three decades Spain has been transformed from a rural and somewhat backward, agricultural country into a nation with strong manufacturing and service sectors.  The diversification made the economy grow, at a rate of 7% and is now one of the world's fastest growing economies.
Between 1986 and 1991, Spain's economy grew at a rate of about 4.1%, compared with the EU average of 3%. Foreign trade grew from $23.8 in 1975 to $52.5 billion in 1980. In 1990 it grew to around $143 billion.  Today Spain has the fifth largest economy in Europe. It accounts for around 9% of EU output.  Although the per capita income, in one of the lowest in the EU at 78% although it is still well ahead of Ireland, Portugal and Greece. The main trading partners of Spain for exports are France, Germany and Italy and Germany, France, and Italy for imports.
The main slice of Spain's economy evolves from within the Basque country and the region of Catalonia, which are both mainly industrial regions located in the north.  Barcelona, Biscay, Madrid, Navarre and Oviedo are all situated in the north and the east and produce over a half the country's industrial output. Barcelona, is Spain's economic powerhouse and one of Europe's most important industrial regions. In the early nineties, Spain had one of the worst recessions in the EU. It had reduced investment and an increasing public deficit.  There where numerous bankruptcies and rising inflation.
The seven year EU transition 'honeymoon' period ended in 1993 and it was then that Spain was exposed to the full force of EU competition, after the country's tariffs and quotas, on EU imports were phased out. Spain needed huge investment for it's infrastructure. Roads, railways, airports, water supplies and tel-communications services where desperately needed. Between 1995 and 1999 the EU gave Spain $22.8 billion specifically for this purpose. Most of Span's industry derives from small to medium sized, companies and family concerns. It only has three companies in Europe's top 100 (Telefónica, Endesa and Repsol) and it has a further six in the top 300. Spain has relied heavily on foreign investment some three-quarters of it, are in fact located in Barcelona and Madrid. More than 30% of Spanish industry and over 50% of its food production, is foreign-owned. The lack of modern machinery and technology (over 90% of Spanish industrial plant is out of date and needs replacing) has a detrimental effect on Spain's economy.  Most of Spain's largest companies are state-owned and are loss making, and include the national airline, Iberia, steel foundries, petrochemicals, mining and chemical companies. In the early 90´s the government started to privatise some of it's state owned companies. Repsol (petrochemicals), Telefonica (telecommunications) and Endesa (electricity) where a few of these. Tourism, chemicals, petrochemicals, food and beverages are Spain's highest producing industries. It has a large manufacturing industry, which accounts for over a fourth of Europe's, after Germany, France and Italy. Principal growth areas include tourism of course, insurance, property development, electronics and financial services. Tourism accounts for about 4% of the GDP and employs some 10% of the workforce, both directly and indirectly. Spain is the world's largest producer of olive oil, the fourth largest supplier of dried fruit and the sixth largest of citrus fruits. Spain's vineyards are the largest in the world, more than 60% larger than France's. Other important crops include wheat, barley, rice, maze, potatoes, peppers, beetroot, peppers, tomatoes and avocado.  It also has a large production on hops, oil bearing fruits, cork and tobacco. Over three million hectares of land has to be irrigated or needs some supply of artificial watering, which often isn't cost effective. Spanish farmers have been particularly badly hit by drought and falling prices in recent years. The last ten years has much of state spending slashed to control the soaring budget deficit. Like many European countries, Spain has found that it can no longer afford to pay social security benefits. This continues to be one of the most pressing issue's on the current governments agenda, this together with a total revamp of it's  beaurocracy, which for all of its other changes, remains unchanged and firmly rooted in the 1950's. * Espanole 2001
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