Trade News

Black Friday in Spain: A formula that works

By | Law, Trade News

Black Friday is a commercial formula imported from the United States that inaugurates the Christmas shopping season. It is celebrated one day after “Thanksgiving”, that is to say, the fourth Friday of November. There is no unanimity on the origin of its denomination, why Black Friday? For some people, the reason is that this day refers to the time when the trades red numbers become black. On the other hand, others attribute the “black” qualifier to its use on November 19, 1975, by The New York Times, referring to the chaos that had occurred as a result of the “Thanksgiving” discounts.[1]

Nevertheless, its practice in Spain is more recent. In our country, Apple was the first to introduce Black Friday in 2010. However, it was not consolidated until 2012, when the realization of sales was authorized at any moment of the year. It was precisely in this moment when its practice turned viral. This tendency is major in department and multinational stores, whereas in small shops it is still timid.[2]

What is bought at the Black Friday?

According to the Cetelem Observatory 2018, last year the products that were most bought were, respectively, fashion (43%), appliances and technology (32%), mobile devices (31%) and footwear and accessories (29%). The following is a more detailed look at the products and services acquired in 2017 on the occasion of the Black Friday:Black Friday products- Dos Aguas BlogThe average expenditure for the Black Friday 2018 was €280, which implies 13% more than the previous year. 44% of consumers were in the spending range of between 100 and €300 (44%), while 18% stated they intended to spend between €300 and
€500, and 10% between €500 and €1,000.[3]

Black Friday and consumers

Consumers are one of the main elements in the design of the strategy to be used when it is about to celebrate the Black Friday. Because of that, the comprehension of the norms relative to the protection of the consumer is vital, as well as the work that the OCU (Spanish Organization of Consumers and Users) realizes on this matter. In fact, this organization monitor the prices of the products a month before Black Friday to analyze if the announced deals really constitute a discount. Among its main conclusions for this edition, during the week of Black Friday 37.1% of the products were cheaper than on the 23rd of October, and only 22.2% of them were more expensive than in the previous month.

In addition, the lowest prices were found in the sales of capsule coffeemakers, TVs and summer tires, while minor changes have been observed in small appliances such as fryers or microwaves.[4]

Do you want your Business to celebrate Black Friday?

Joining this trend is a guarantee of success, especially if you have an online store.  Indeed, 50% of consumers stated that they would make their purchases in this way against 12% that would do so in a physical store. From Dos Aguas Consulting we offer advice and resolve all queries you may have regarding Black Friday. We can turn Black Friday into your favorite day of the year!


[1] Elena Sanz (2018) ¿Qué es el ‘Black Friday’?, Muy Historia. Available online (link) [Last accessed: 28.11.2018]

[2] El Periódico (16 de noviembre de 2018) ¿Qué es el Black Friday? Origen y desde cuándo se hace en España, El Periódico. Available online (link) [Last accessed: 28.11.2018]

[3] El Observatorio Cetelem (2018) El gasto durante el BLACK FRIDAY de los españoles, page: 9. Available online (link) [Last accessed: 28.11.2018]

[4] Organización de Consumidores y Usuarios (26 de noviembre de 2018) Black Friday 2018: ¿bajan los precios?, OCU. Available online (link) [Last accessed: 28.11.2018]

Mapa riesgos politicos- Dos Aguas Blog

How to protect my company from political risks?

By | Law, Trade News

Political instability in a country has a direct impact on its trade. In recent years, there have been many elements that have affected trade relations at an international level. As a consequence, global trade protectionism has increased and the position that the President of the United States has been defending has marked a wake of uncertainty in global markets. In Europe, the UK’s negotiations to leave the European Union continue to appear on the region’s political-risk scenario. Likewise, as the negotiations continue, the risk of the UK leaving without a satisfactory agreement increases, and companies may need to be prepared for such an event.

Political risk is defined as the risk arising from the political and economic circumstances of the country with trade interests. In this way, the level of political risk will vary depending on the country. This risk is mainly caused by the political measures of the country’s authorities, which may affect the ability of its residents to carry out transactions, or even to breach the contract.[1] This situation raises the question, how to act in the face of a political risk?

From a business point of view, the types of action against these risks are classified into two different models: active and non-active.

Active modes of action

Active action implies, for example, hiring export credit insurance. This instrument is a hedging mechanism that protects exporters against both ordinary and extraordinary risks arising from international trade. They shall, therefore, be compensated for the damage caused by events which may impede the collection or recovery of credits agreed abroad. For example, in Spain, the Spanish Company of Export Credit Insurance (in Spanish, Compañía Española de Seguros de Crédito a la Exportación-CESCE) offers a wide range of products that enable companies to cover the political and commercial risks they have in their business operations and international investment (export operations, sales on the domestic market, foreign investment, resolution of contracts, work abroad, implementation of securities clearing operations, etc). CESCE covers the short-term commercial risks, both inside and outside Spain, as well as the state long-term commercial and political risks in all its periods, in relation to the external activity of the companies.[2]

Another instrument to take into consideration is forfaiting operations which is a modality of export financing, that consists of the commercial discount that the exporter receives to implement the deferred payment of commercial purchase/sale operations. These are instruments that are likely to be financed such as letters and promissory notes, both with the endorsement of front-line banks. The time allowed is usually between 6 months and 5 years.[3] The virtuality of this instrument is that it implies the assurance of the collection of the export by the exporter.[4]

Non-active modes of action

The non-active mode of action is the observance and analysis of the country risk, that is to say, the study of the country’s qualification with regard to its political risk. Thus, the types of risks to be analyzed are the following:

  • Sovereign risk. The risk of the creditors of the States or of entities guaranteed by them, since any legal action against the borrower could be ineffective.
  • Transfer risk. This is the risk that foreign creditors have against residents in a country when they unable to cope with their debts because they do not have enough currencies for that debt.
  • Risks arising from the international financial activity. These are the risks that can be covered by the export credit insurance.[5]

It must be pointed out that this analysis will always depend on the institution that performs it and the variables that it uses. For example, after the economic crisis of 2008 and the fall of Lehman Brothers (which had obtained the highest qualification), these agencies suffered a great loss of credibility and proved that they may not work as an instrument against the risk generated by Economic and/or political instabilities.

However, beyond big companies, there are also other companies and agencies that are dedicated to the analysis and localization of political risks such as MARSH, which makes a map and detailed study of all countries worldwide. Here we can see the map of the year 2018: Aguas Blog

Source: MARSH

In conclusion, these instruments are useful for identifying and mitigating the effects of political risks on international trade operations, and for providing security in our international activities. Do you have any doubts? Don’t hesitate to contact us!


[1] Guillermo Rivas-Plata Sierra et al.  (2008) ¿Cómo operar en el Comercio Internacional?, Agroleader+, page: 79. Available online (link) [Last accessed: 22.11.2018]

[2] Ministerio de Industria, Comercio y Turismo (2018) Cobertura por cuenta del Estado de los riesgos de la internacionalización de la economía española: CESCE, Gobierno de España’s website. Available online (link) [Last accessed: 22.11.2018]

[3] Fermín Pérez Aguilera (2017) Manual. Puesta en marcha y financiación de pequeños negocios o microempresas, Editorial CEP, page:91.

[4] Consejo Superior de Cámaras de Comercio. Plan Cameral de las Exportaciones (2018) ¿Qué es el Forfaiting?, Cámaras’ website. Available online (link) [Last accessed: 22.11.2018]

[5] Consejo Superior de Cámaras de Comercio. Plan Cameral de las Exportaciones (2018) ¿Cuáles son los instrumentos de cobertura del riesgo político y comercial?, Cámaras’ website. Available online (link) [Last accessed: 22.11.2018]

Brexit- Countries affected-Dos Aguas Blog

Brexit: Which countries will be affected the most?

By | International Relations, Trade News

A few weeks ago the team of Dos Aguas Consulting wrote a blog about the current situation of Brexit. In that article it was analyzed the possible scenarios after Brexit, as well as the resulting consequences. In this new post, it will be discussed the countries that are going to be affected the most by this new situation.

The countries that will be affected the most by potential imposition of tariffs, rates and/or other trade barriers in the United Kingdom are those that export on a large scale to the country. Thus, according to exports data from the period between 2013-2017, these will be EU countries that have been benefited by the existence of a Common Market and the absence of trade barriers. In the next table it can be seen that the countries that will suffer a greater impact are the following:

Top 10 countries with the largest shares of imports to the UK (in thousands of euros)

Exporters UK-Europe- Dos Aguas

According to the Brexit Sensitivity Index (BSI) elaborated in 2016 by the rating agency Standard & Poor’s (S&P), the most affected country will be Ireland, followed by Malta, Luxembourg, and Cyprus. The aforementioned agency has established a ranking of the 20 countries that are most affected by migratory flows, exports to the UK foreign direct investment in the UK, and the demands of the financial sector on the institutions of the UK. In the following graph, Spain is placed in eighth position in a ranking that shows the impact on the financial sector. In this same graph it can be seen that the damage on exports is not as big.

Brexit-IndexAccording to the BSI, the Spanish exposure to the exit of the United Kingdom from the EU is notable. This index stresses the idea that the financial sector and the investments of Spanish companies in the UK will be weaker in this new scenario. It is also noticeable that, according to the BSI, the exposure of the Spanish economy is higher than that of countries such as France, Germany, and Italy due to the great interest that some of the main Spanish corporations have in UK.

The Spanish case

The exposure is particularly relevant in the British financial sector through the Santander and Sabadell banks (owners of TSB), as well as to the telecommunications companies. In this way, according to data from International Financial Analysts (Analistas Financieros Internacionales in Spanish), Santander UK would be depositary of 10% to 20 % of current British accounts, a percentage that in the case of TSB is estimated at around 5%. In 2015, Grupo Santander obtained 30% and Sabadell 17.2% of their net profit in the UK.[1]

Another sector highly affected will be telecommunications. According to IMF estimations and some economists, the possible deterioration of the economy in the United Kingdom could lead to a loss of value of the British subsidiary of Telefonica, O2.[2]

It is paradoxical that, despite Spain’s large market share in UK services, especially in tourism, exports of Spanish goods and services to the country is only 2.7% of its GDP, which represents 0.1% below Germany, and slightly above the average.[3]


In short, there is still no damage in the Spanish exports to the United Kingdom. However, it is true that Brexit is still not fully resolved and few dare to venture its long-term consequences.

The strategy of Dos Aguas Consulting is to provide information, security, and confidence in each step for business in both countries to tackle this new situation. Do not hesitate to contact us, we will be happy to answer your questions!


[1] Luis Meyer (April 26th, 2017) Las empresas españolas que hubieran votado “NO” al “Brexit”, Ethic website (Link) Last accessed: 15.11.2018

[2] Luis Meyer (April 26th, 2017) Las empresas españolas que hubieran votado “NO” al “Brexit”, Ethic website (Link) Last accessed: 15.11.2018

[3] Funds Society (2016) S&P lanza un índice de sensibilidad al Brexit y sitúa a España como el octavo país más afectado, Funds Society (Link) Last accessed: 15.11.2018

Other consulted sources:

S&P Global (2016) Who Has The Most To Lose From Brexit? Introducing The Brexit Sensitivity Index, S&P Global Ratings (Link) Last accessed: 15.11.2018

Brexit- Dos Aguas Blog

A new chapter in the Brexit process, a new history of uncertainty

By | International Relations, Trade News

In recent weeks Brexit have been back in the news. Since the referendum on the permanence of the United Kingdom in the European Union, Europe has been plunged into uncertainty due to the future relationships between both parties. It is well known that uncertainty is not good for business and economy. At Dos Aguas Consulting we are making a list of those risks that importers and exporters may face in the new scenario, as well as we explain how Dos Aguas Consulting can help making safe business in Spain.

What are the risks for importers and exporters?

We are not facing an easy issue, considering the growing fear among businessmen about this new situation in which tariffs in the trade between the UK and EU may be raised.

First of all, it must be borne in mind that the situation will depend on the political sphere and the negotiations between the EU and the UK. These negotiations began in March 2017 and some experts see the final agreement far away, especially after the latest statements by Theresa May in the European Parliament, opening the possibility to extend the transition period of the Brexit beyond December of 2020.[1]

In the event that both parties do not reach an agreement, the basic rules of the World Trade Organization (hereinafter, WTO) are applied, which implies the existence of various tariffs for both imports and exports. In this scenario, tariffs will reduce competitiveness and benefits for Spanish and European exporters, as well as for British importers.

However, we must take into account that since the UK is a member of the WTO (prior to its membership in the EU), the most favored nation (MFN) treatment must exist between the EU and the UK. In this way, the British exporters would face the EU Common Customs Tariff, while the EU exporters would face the tariffs that the UK freely chose to apply. In addition to the already mentioned tariffs, the exporters of both parties would face other non-tariff barriers when exporting to the other party because the compliance of the regulations in force would not be automatically secured any longer.[2]

Secondly, within the scope of the WTO the customs tariffs set by the WTO will apply to British exports (10% to the automotive sector and 36% to agricultural products in 2014). This fact will put British companies at a competitive disadvantage, even more because there is no room to negotiate other rates within the organization. In this regard, main product groups will be affected by this alleged situation:

Dos Aguas Blog- United Kingdom exports from Spain 2017

Source: Elaborated by Dos Aguas Consulting

Dos Aguas Blog- United Kingdom imports from Spain 2017

Source: Elaborated by Dos Aguas Consulting

On the one hand, the EU is one of the main export partners of the UK, since 47.43% of British exports are destined to a member state of the EU. In fact, 3.05% go to Spain, being the main groups of products: vehicles, machinery, pharmaceutical products, mineral fuels and electrical machinery.

On the other hand, Spain also finds in the British market sales opportunities for its products. In the period between 2013 and 2017, Spanish imports increased by 20.56%. Among the groups of imported products include: vehicles, machinery and food products.

In short, the increase in business costs between the UK and the EU after Brexit can be divided into three parts:

  1. Higher tariffs on imports;
  2. Greater non-tariff barriers to trade (derived from different regulations, border controls, etc.);
  3. The UK can not be part of future EU actions to achieve a deeper integration and the reduction of non-tariff barriers in the EU.

Recommendation for the British in the event of a non-agreement:

The British Government has prepared a series of guides and informative material in case the agreement between both parties cannot be reached. Information can be obtained on different aspects such as agriculture, export and import, money and taxes, health issues, study in the UK or the EU and rights in the workplace.


Given the situation of uncertainty surrounding the negotiations, we recommend to pay special attention to the drafting of contracts when exporting or importing, as well as to choice the most advantageous INCOTERMS, the currency to carry out the transaction, the insurance contracting, etc. At Dos Aguas Consulting we can help companies with these issues and others business problems in the Spanish market. Remember our motto: “Information is Safe Business”.

Methodological Note:

Information trade between the United Kingdom and Spain from International Trade Center.


[1] EC/Agencies (22th October, 2018) May abre la puerta a extender el periodo de transición del Brexit. El Confidencial website.Available online (link). Last accessed: 25.10.2018.

[2]  Spanish Department of Agriculture, Food and Environment in London (2015) Implicaciones de la salida británica de la UE
para el sector agro-alimentario. Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food website. Available online (link). Last accessed: 25.10.2018.

Spain, digitisation, digital transformation

Digital Transformation of the Spanish Market

By | Economic Activities, Economic Analysis, Trade News

Vivian Hendrikse

When digital transformation of industries and businesses became the ‘hot topic’ that it is today, several indices soon showed that Spain was lagging behind the average of digital transformation of all European countries. As industries are exposed to continuous digitisation, digital transformation was, and remains to be, a major challenge for Spain [2]. Considering the fact that for decades, Spain was never a leader of industrial movements as the nation’s main sector was (and is) tourism, Spain lagging behind in digitisation somewhat does not come as a surprise [5]. However, recent developments show quite the opposite. The Spanish government recognised the importance of digitisation and launched an initiative in which digital transformation in Spain could contribute to increased earnings of 120 billion euros until 2025 [2,4,5]. Moreover, when it comes to application of digital technologies such as blockchain and the internet of things (IoT), Spain appears to take a lead with more pilots and projects than in the rest of the EU. In this blog, the Dos Aguas Team analyses and summarises the digital transformation of the Spanish market, in order to find out what remains a challenge for Spain, and what Spanish developments can be used as examples of digital transformation done right.

Spain’s digital transformation position

Spain is the 5th largest economy of Europe, and the 13th largest economy of the world [2]. For an economy this large, digital transformation is more of a challenge than for smaller economies, solely caused by the larger magnitude of the transformation. To measure country performances in the context of digital transformation, the European Digital Economy & Society Index (DESI) assesses transformation in five areas: connectivity, human capital, use of internet, integration of digital technology, and digital public services [2]. When looking at the index of 2017 (graph below), Spain indeed scores slightly below the average of the European Union in the first three aspects. The graph also displays the scores of Sweden, a country known for a slightly smaller economy and very progressive culture, which are above average in all five aspects of the graph [2]. However, Spain scores above average in the fourth category (integration of digital technology), and exceptional in the fifth (digital public services), confirming the previously stated suggestion that Spain has both point of improvements, as well as top-of-the-class performances. 

European Digital Economy & Society Index (DESI), Spain, Sweden, Average EU


Looking at digital transformation from the perspective of individual Spanish companies, results of a survey shows that the priorities of digital trends amongst companies mainly are: becoming accessible via mobile, creating a digital user experience, and dealing with big data [3]. The statistics regarding the priorities amongst these digital trends are graphed below. 

Digitisation, key trends, Spanish companies, Spain


Barriers that slow down improvements

The points of improvements of Spain’s digital transformation, according to the scores as presented in the DESI, are related to connectivity, the digitisation of human capital, and overall usage of internet – aspects who are clearly linked to each other. To express that improvements have to be made, the Spanish Business Organisations Confederation (Confederación Española de Organizaciones Empresariales, CEOE) set a goal for Spain to be ranked as number 10 maximum in the DESI by the end of 2020 [2]. However, this goal is not easily met, as several barriers exist that stagnate improvements in these three categories. These barriers include the following: only 54% of the population has basic digital skills, 62% of companies do not have a digital strategy and 20% do not provide any type of digital training to their employees, 79% of organisations are not present on any kind of social media, only 16% of small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) sell their service or product online, and more than one fifth (22%) of management teams have expressed that they are resistant to digital transformation of their companies [1]. What is more, due to high costs of digital transformation and perceived security risks, these statistics are unlikely to change in the near future without an external push.

Governmental initiatives to push for digital transformation

An external push that encourages Spanish organisations to digitally transform must come from the Spanish government. To start, an overall collective awareness of the importance of digital transformation is required. In May 2018, the Digital Enterprise Show (DES) assembled the four major political parties of Spain to discuss and present proposed digital transformation strategies for Spain [4]. The outcome of this conversation is summarised here. Conferences like these slowly bring awareness about the topic to a larger audience, however the barriers ‘cost’ and ‘security risk’ remain existing for SMEs.

Several initiatives have been implemented in an attempt to diminish these barriers. In 2017, financial aid had been given to 25 SMEs in a pilot project to direct implement digital transformation in enterprises in the Spanish industry, and this project has since been rolled out to reach a much larger scale [2]. Another example is the initiative of the Spanish Ministry of Industry (MINECO), to increase the contribution to the country’s GDP by €120 billion until 2025 by digital transformation, as investigated by Roland Berger in collaboration with Siemens [1,2]. The report of this investigation (link, in Spanish) states that successful digital transformation would lead Spanish companies to reduce their production, maintenance and logistics costs by 10% or 20%, and reduce their inventory costs by up to 50% [1]. This would then offset and even overshadow the costs of the digital transformation. The initiatives include the development of a Digital Agenda of Spain to digitalise public administration, and a pilot project to digitalise the country’s department of Justice [4].

With an eye on the security barrier, the Spanish government launched several nation-wide cyber security projects. This brings us to the country’s high score of integration of digital technologies[5].

Outstanding performance

As the graph of the European DESI scores indicates, Spain indeed outperforms the average of the EU, and partially even the leaders of the group, in the areas of digital technology integration and digital public services. In the previous paragraph, we established several governmental initiatives that are implemented to improve the country’s digital transformation. In the two sectors in which Spain outperforms the EU average, these initiatives have clearly already succeeded. However, Spain continues to develop in these areas. For example with the proposed 2018 Stability Programme and Budgetary Plan, which introduced a Digital Services Tax (DST) in April of this year, to be implemented effective immediately [6]. Also, the government’s Public Digital Agenda [4] and the Public Administration 4.0 strategy [2] contribute to maintaining this solid digital public service score of the DESI.

On the side of integration of digital technology, Spain progressively takes the lead by becoming a European focal point in blockchain and IoT [5]. As several of our previous blogs already describe, the Spanish government pioneers when it comes to implementing projects related to blockchain and digital currencies, having one of the few national banks worldwide that openly support these technologies [5]. Furthermore, by being one of the smartest cities of the world, Barcelona significantly contributes to an excellent score on digital technology integration [5]. For more information, take a look at our blogs Barcelona: the smart(est) city of Spain and Blockchain in Spain.

Conclusion and investment opportunities

To summarise, there are areas of improvement for Spain as well as areas in which the country leads in the context of digital transformation. This gives way for many investment opportunities. On the one hand, opportunities arise in the need for basic digital transformation in the areas of connectivity, usage of internet and human capital. Combined with the statistics of where companies see the most need of digital improvement, fruitful investment strategies can be made. On the other hand, one can choose to jump on the disruptive technologies train and invest in the innovative technologies that Spain is leading in and further developing. For more information about investment opportunities get in touch with us: our trade advisors will be happy to assist you.


[1] Signaturit, 16 May 2017, The state of the digital transformation in Spain, according to the latest study from the consultant company Roland Berger and Siemens. Available Online (link) [Last Accessed: 10.10.2018] [2] Business Sweden Iberia, 2017, Digital Transformation in the Spanish Industry: Capturing the business opportunities. Available Online (link) [Last Accessed: 10.10.2018] [3] Statista, 2015, Digitization key trends among Spanish companies in 2015. Available Online (link) [Last Accessed: 09.10.2018] [4] Tim Hinchliffe, May 2018, 4 major political parties to present digital transformation agendas for Spain, Novobrief. Available Online (link) [Last Accessed: 08.10.2018] [5] Stefanie Müller, 3 April 2018, How Spain’s rise to digital leader has gone under the radar, DW. Available Online (link) [Last Accessed: 11.10.2018] [6] EY, 17 May 2018, Spain proposes digital services tax to be effective in 2018. Available Onine (link) [Last Accessed: 11.10.2018] [7] iScoop: Digital Transformation. Available Online (link) [Last Accessed: 10.10.2018]


Optical sector-Spain-Dos Aguas-Blog

Optical sector, a sector that is growing every year

By | Economic Activities, Trade News

The optical sector suffered, like many others, a big recession during the generalized economic crisis in 2008 and the years after. However, this is a thing of the past. Currently, it is in a moment of continuous growth and the most evident proof of this is that 2017 ended as the fourth consecutive year of growth.

According to data from the consulting firm GfK, the optics sector closed 2017 with a turnover of 0.5% higher than the previous year, which is 2,080 million euros. This figure gathers the sales of ophthalmic lenses, frames, contact lenses, sunglasses and maintenance products.[1]

Analyzing the demand. How is the Spanish consumer?

According to the report El Observatorio Cetelem Consumo España 2017, regarding optical products, the Spanish consumer is nowadays demanding these products. In fact, “39% of the Spanish respondents have purchased a product related to optics in the last 12 months”.[2]Likewise, in 2017 the Spanish consumer has increased by 48, 72% the expenditure destined for optical products, reaching an average cost of 231 euros.

Regarding the purchase channels, the Spanish buyer shows a more conservative attitude, preferring the physical store to online commerce[3], due to the fact that in Spain the treatment and personal advice of professionals are highly valued.

Foreign Trade

Moving to a more global vision, we now analyze the evolution of the other three main optical markets in the European Union: Italy, France, and Germany. In the four-country comparison, Spain was the second that has grown the most after Germany, a country that has registered an upturn of 3.2% in its turnover. Italy and France, however, have suffered from a negative evolution with falls of 1.4% and 1.6%, respectively by the end of 2017. Particularly striking is the case of France, where the market reflects changes in its legislation that limit the reimbursement to the user in the visual equipment of 150 euros.[4]

On the other hand, the impact on the market of imports and exports that Spain makes in this sector is as important as direct sales within the national territory. The value of imports made in 2017 triples that of exports, which means that the balance of the trade balance in the optical sector is negative. This fact highlights the competition that exists in Spain within this sector, where not only national companies stand out, but also international companies have a vital importance that is increasing every year. In this way, the imports in the year 2017 have grown by 10.18% with respect to the previous year.

Exports optical sector in Spain-Dos Aguas BlogFigure elaborated by Dos Aguas Consulting

In terms of imports, the Italian and Chinese markets dominate the optics distribution. Italy is a leading country in the optical industry and China bases its power on an extremely attractive price. As for the exports, if we set aside Italy that leads the ranking by far, the distribution is much more homogeneous.

Imports of optical sector in Spain-Dos Aguas BlogFigure elaborated by Dos Aguas Consulting

The growing trend of the market reflects that opportunities will continue increasing in the optical sector in Spain. A very needed industry for every society and that needs to be covered. This is to only way to help people alleviate the visual deficits, which are increasing among the population of Western countries.

Dos Aguas Consulting can contribute with our knowledge of the optical sector in many ways: from the particularities of the market and its regulations to outlining the profile of the Spanish consumer. In our work as a company specialized in advising and supporting international companies that want to invest in Spain, we can help you find clients and make a profitable business in the country. Get in touch with us, our trade advisors will help you!

Methodological note:

Charts made from import and export data of the International Trade Center.


[1] Europa Press (April 13th, 2018) El mercado español de la óptica cerró 2017 con unas ventas de 2.080 millones, un 0,5% más. Available online (link) Last accessed: 02.10.2018

[2] El Observatorio Cetelem (2017)El Observatorio Cetelem Consumo España 2017.Sector Óptica/Audiología. Page: 3. Available online (link) Last accessed: 02.10.2018

[3] El Observatorio Cetelem (2017)El Observatorio Cetelem Consumo España 2017.Sector Óptica/Audiología. Page: 17. Available online (link) Last accessed: 02.10.2018

[4] Gfk (April 12th, 2018) Estudio: El mercado español de la Óptica facturó 2.080 millones de euros en 2017 (press release). Available online (link) Last accessed: 02.10.2018

Ecommerce & retail in Spain

By | Economic Activities, Economic Analysis, Trade News
Vivian Hendrikse
With online sales in Western Europe having increased by 15.6% from 2015 to 2016, and by another 14.2% in 2017, ecommerce is the fastest growing retail market of our time [3]. What is more, this growth, corresponding to online spending for retail, is not expected to cease to exist. Retail is defined as sales of merchandise to the final consumer, excluding cooked food, restaurants, automobiles and vehicle fuel. Ecommerce therefore captures all online purchases within the retail sector, meaning purchases that included a transaction made using the internet or at distance [3]. Being not just the fastest growing, but also the largest retail market makes ecommerce an important market to acknowledge and explore. In this blog, the Spanish online retail market is investigated and current trends and developments within the sector are identified.

Spanish retail market in past decade and the rise of ecommerce

As Spain was hit by the financial crisis in 2008 and had to deal with a tremendous unemployment wave in the years thereafter, the Spanish retail industry suffered from a large drop in both value and volume (see graph). Though an improvement of the market slowly appeared again in 2012/2013, value and volume of the Spanish retail industry have not reached the same levels as before the crisis [5]. Of course, the Spanish economy is still growing. However, analyses show that the improvement of the market as it is observed in the graph is mainly caused by the rise of ecommerce. In fact, the ecommerce industry was one of the few Spanish sectors that reflected a double digit-growth in 2011 and 2012 [1]. What is more, the impact of the growth of the ecommerce sector on the retail industry in general is magnified by a rise in the size of ecommerce relative to retail in general. The percentage of ecommerce of the total retail industry in Spain doubled in the period 2013 to 2018 (from 3.5% to more than 7%) [3].

Retail sales in Spain [5]

Spain’s current ecommerce environment

There are currently three main trends that drive the Spanish ecommerce market [4]: first, logistics are massively enhanced by offering products online, which increase (worldwide) sales for many Spanish sellers. Second, when it comes to the usage of smartphones, Spain is considered to have one of the highest smartphone penetration rates in Europe, enabling further ecommerce growth [4]. Third, the final trend that arises due to market progression is the integration of (big) data analytics, artificial intelligence, and chatterbots. This is now the most relevant trend for industry participants, as it is the most recent one and consequently leads to many innovative developments and jobs within the sector. In terms of market environment, there are about 23.6 million ecommerce users in Spain, approximately half of its population, and this number is expected to grow to 29.2 million in 2021 [1]. Of the online transactions, more than a third are made by using Credit cards (34%), followed by cash (32%), electronic bank transfer (20%) and eWallet (14%). The most significant payment option in Spain is 4B, which has 20 million cards circulating in the country. After that, credit and debit cards of Euro6000 are also commonly in use [1]. Of the online purchases, the majority is done via the most popular websites of Amazon, Carrefour, eBay, El Corte Ingles, Mediamarkt, PC Componentes,, Zalando, and Zara [2,3].

Future outlook and possible investment opportunities

As a market is rising, investment opportunities rise with it. In the retail sector in general, more and more investments are made: the Spanish retail market alone received 3.9 billion euros of investments in 2017, which was the largest investment volume in any sector of that year and a rise of 31% of investments in the sector compared to the year before [2]. As for the ecommerce sector specifically, it is hard to assess the total investment made as investments in online payment, websites and online stores all fall within its scope. The opportunities per sector within ecommerce are summarized on several websites (one example: link), confirming the wide variety of options to invest in (B2B, ecommerce services, ecommerce intellectual property rights, cross-border ecommerce, etcetera) [4]. Next to that, 75% of all investors in the Spanish retail and ecommerce sector are international investors [2]. Thus, when considering ecommerce in Spain as a next investment move, many opportunities can be considered.


[1] Ecommerce in Spain. Ecommerce news. Available Online (link) [Last Accessed: 11.09.2018]
[2] Retail: What does the future hold for a sector in transformation – Spain February 2018. JJL Spain. Available Online (link) [Last Accessed: 13.09.2018]
[3] Online Retailing: Britain, Europe, US and Canada 2017. Centre for retail research. Available Online (link) [Last Accessed: 12.09.2018]
[4] Spain – Ecommerce, update 12.07.2018. Available Online (link) [Last Accessed: 12.09.2018]
[5] Tobias Buck (May 16, 2016), Spanish Retail: Deep Cuts in Stores, Financial Times. Available Online (link) [Last Accessed: 13.09.2018]
Trade Wars

Trade Wars: Winter is coming

By | Trade News

Since Donald Trump became president of the United States on November 9, 2016, great uncertainty was created in international markets and especially in the World Trade Organization (hereinafter, WTO). Before being elected, the president had already indicated his intention to leave the WTO due to his disagreement with the agreements and treaties that are part of this organization [1] Since 2016, fears about the appearance of commercial wars have risen, and answers against protectionism are becoming more evident. It is increasingly common to see that some analysts write about this phenomenon but, what is a trade war? Which are its consequences? These issues will be resolved below:

What is a trade war?

A trade war is a conflict between two or more nations consisting of actions to restrict the entry of one or several products imported from another nation or a group of nations. The content of the measures can go from the establishment or increase of commercial tariffs to the prohibition of the importation of a specific product. This way of action seeks to improve domestic production, imports, exports, and to create jobs and to revitalize the sector.
However, in the face of such unilateral action by one of the parties, the counterpart may respond by adopting similar regulations that will subsequently provoke that the first country adopts new measures in response.

What are the consequences of a trade war?

The most direct consequence is the increase in prices. That is, consumers pay more for the same product. In addition, this type of commercial disputes leads to the interruption of trade and global supply chains which ultimately produces a damage to the profitability of the companies that import and export.
However, not only is the existence of the commercial war harmful, but the threats of having one also have a negative impact on the stock market. In short, there is an impact on global economic growth.

And if we take a look at the history …

The recent history of the US economy shows us that already in 1930, the United States Congress raised tariffs on certain products with the well-known Smoot-Hawley tariff. As a consequence, many countries raised taxes as well. This took place at the beginning of the Great Depression [2] and it definitely helped to reduce international trade by almost two thirds.
In this way, the international community, knowing how destructive economic conflicts have been throughout history, had chosen to resolve trade confrontations by adopting a set of rules imbricated in the WTO, [3] moving away from protectionist measures and embracing liberal politics.

What are the new protectionist measures in Washington?

The trade balance between China and the United States is unequal in favor of China. This means that the United States acquires more products from China than the other way around. This situation may be observed in the following graph:
Trade War China and US
President Trump’s 25% duties affect 1,300 products belonging to the information and communication technology industries, the aerospace industry and machinery. Below, we can see in more detail the main products nominated by Trump’s Administration:
Blog-Trade Wars China and US
While China’s counterattack focuses on US agricultural products UU as meat, fish, fruits, cereals, alcohol, cotton, etc.[4] The following are the main breakdown products of the Chinese counterattack:
Trade Wars- US and China
Trade wars are never the right instrument to seek economic growth in a region or in a country. In the end, the consumers have to pay the rise in prices and as a consequence, they lose purchasing power, which has a direct impact on the business fabric. In addition, trade wars respond to actions based on an “eye for an eye” that must be kept away from diplomacy and international and economic relations.


[1] Tim Worstall (July 25, 2016), Donald Trump’s Ludicrous Idea Of Pulling The US From The World Trade Organisation, Forbes. Available online (link) [Last access: 16.08.2018]
[2] BBC Mundo Redacción (May 31, 2018), Qué es una guerra comercial, cuáles son sus armas y quiénes son sus principales víctimas, BBC. Available online (link) [Last access: 16.08.2018]
[3] Federico Steinberg (March 19, 2018), What you need to know about Trump’s trade war, Real Instituto Elcano. Available online (link) [Last access: 16.08.2018]
[4] Bob Bryan (July 11, 2018) China just slammed massive tariffs on $34 billion worth of US goods — here’s what will get hit, Business Insider. Available online (link) [Last access: 16.08.2018]


Avi Salzman and Evie Liu (April 9, 2018), The Brewing U.S.-China Trade War, Explained in Charts, Barron’s. Available online (link) [Last access: 16.08.2018]

Do you like graphs and infographics? Don’t miss the following!:

Jeff Desjardins (July 18, 2018), A brief history of US trade wars, Business Insider. Available online (link) [Last access: 16.08.2018]

EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement

By | International Relations, Law, Trade News
An answer against trade protectionism
An ambitious trade agreement between the European Union and Japan was signed in July 2018. The negotiations began in 2013, when the EU governments commissioned the European Commission to start negotiations with the Japanese country. Negotiations have been delayed during 18 rounds, the last one was held in April 2017. On July 6, the European Union and Japan reached a principle of agreement on the main elements of the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement.[1]According to some experts, the signing of this agreement not only has a commercial purpose but also implies a message and a reaction against the protectionist retreat of the US president.[2]
However, an analysis of the content of the Agreement in figures shows much more since EU companies export more than 58,000 million euros in goods and 28,000 million euros in services every year to Japan. This instrument will eliminate most of the 1,000 million euros of rights paid annually by EU companies that export to Japan, as well as a series of long-standing regulatory barriers. At the same time, this agreement will open the Japanese market of 127 million consumers to the main agricultural exports of the EU and increase the opportunities for EU exports in a range of other sectors.
On the one hand, regarding the EU’s agricultural exports, the Agreement affects the tariffs of many cheeses, such as Gouda and Cheddar (which currently stand at 29.8%), as well as wine exports (currently with an average of 15%). Moreover, it allows the EU to increase its exports of beef to Japan. In fact, there will be duty-free trade for processed pork and almost duty-free trade for fresh meat. It also guarantees the protection in Japan of more than 200 high quality European agricultural products (Geographical Indications, GI). A selection of Japanese GIs in the EU will also be protected.
In addition, it establishes transition periods before opening markets that are particularly sensitive for the EU, such as the automotive sector[3] which, as can be seen in the following image, consists of the second category of products that the EU exports to Japan, and represents 14.38% of the trade involving 9,941,226 thousand euros. Nevertheless, imports from Japan of motor vehicles amounted to 20,986,186 thousand euros (accounting for 24.38% of imports). In the following image you can see the main categories of products imported / exported between both regions:

Bilateral Commerce Japan EU

On the other hand, the Agreement opens markets of services, in particular financial services, electronic commerce, telecommunications and transport. The aim is to guarantee EU companies access to Japan’s large supply markets in 48 large cities and eliminate barriers to contracting in the rail sector of economic importance at the national level.
Differently from the climate of uncertainty in international trade due to protectionist waves as well as possible trade wars, the EU has opted to continue with its agenda and its focus on commercial liberalism and its commitment to its main trading partners.
If you are interested in the Japanese market and are thinking of exporting to the country of the rising sun, from Dos Aguas we can give you the support and the necessary guidance to the export path. Do not miss the opportunity!

A brief overview of the Agreement between the EU-Japan


[1] European Commission (2018) Negotiations and agreements EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement. Available online (link) [Last access: 07.08.2018]
[2] Alastair Gale and Emre Peker (July 17, 2018) Japan, EU Sign Trade Deal: ‘We Stand Together Against Protectionism’. The Wall Street Journal. Available online (link) [Last access: 07.08.2018]
[3] European Commission (December 8, 2017) EU and Japan finalise Economic Partnership Agreement. Available online (link) [Last access: 07.08.2018]

Recommended reading:

Agreement between the European Union and Japan for an economic partnership (Full text)
Reports from the negotiating rounds. They are available in the following link: (link)
EU-Japan EPA – The Agreement in Principle (July 2017) (link)

Methodological note:

The image uses data from the International Trade Centre. EU’s data are from the 28 member countries.

New agreement between the EU and Mexico

By | Trade News | No Comments

On April 21st, a draft trade agreement was signed between the EU and Mexico as part of a modernized Global Agreement. The aim of this agreement was to update and broaden the coverage of the existing legal framework, as well as to strengthen the ties between these two economies and promote trade between the two regions.

The trade relations between the EU and Mexico were intensified in 1997 with the Global Agreement, which resulted in the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) in 2000. One might wonder: what does that mean? FTA is a preferential agreement that liberalizes trade in all industrial goods and most agricultural goods, improving market access conditions for Mexican and European exporters. According to data from the Mexican Ministry of Economy, the annual average flow of investment from the EU to Mexico has increased by 148%, going from 20.8 billion dollars to 61.7 billion dollars per year since the agreement was signed. This has made the European Union the second trading partner of Mexico worldwide after the United States. In the industrial goods sector (chemicals, plastics, cosmetics, textiles, and clothing), full liberalization had been agreed on in the existing agreement. This is perhaps not surprising, as the EU is very competitive in all these sectors (1). This legal framework has now been completed and expanded after the negotiation of a new trade agreement. In the next paragraphs, we will comment on its commercial aspects.

As for agriculture products, the new agreement ensures liberalization of more than 85% of sectors that had not been liberalized until now. Yet, the new agreement excludes products that have been kept to the strict minimum and it only refers to the sugar sector. For the remaining items, increased market access has been negotiated, including partial liberalization and Tariff Rate Quotas (TRQs), illustrated by the following table:

The new agreement is very wide and covers not only trade issues, but also includes an integral chapter of trade and sustainable development, establishing high standards of protection for labor, security, environment, and the consumer. It also strengthens the actions of the EU and Mexico to support sustainable development and climate change, in particular the obligations assumed by both parties under the Paris Agreement on climate change.

However, this is just one more step towards the final text. Both sides continue to work on resolving the pending technical issues and finish the expected legal text.

Dos Aguas Consulting