José Luis García-Palacios Álvarez

President of Caja Rural del Sur and its Foundation

Based on the figures provided by Extenda (which cover a period until the month of November 2021) the province of Huelva leads the ranking of exporting provinces of Andalucía, this being the result of the path followed by companies in Huelva in order to position their products in international markets. In this sense, we can confirm that exports offer significant potential for our economy. The Chamber´s decision to create the Exporters Club in 2020 was promptly supported by Caja Rural del Sur and its Foundation – since many years ago, this entity has been standing side by side with companies and cooperatives through a department specialised in internationalisation, assisting them with financial procedures necessary to access international markets and helping them to understand them better.

This rise of exports has also taken place in other areas of Andalucía. On the basis of the data recently provided by Extenda, exports in the region have followed a 53% year-on-year increase (twice the Spanish average of + 22.6%) which is the highest growth rate among the eleven most exporting regions, and they have reached 3,535 million euros – this being the highest number ever recorded in November since comparable registers are kept (1995). Stimulated by these historical growth rates, Andalusian exports have reached 31,371 million euros in accumulated yearly terms, a record figure for this period which entails an increase of 24.46% with regards to the first eleven months of 2021, also higher than the national average (+21.21%).

This way, Andalucía reaches the third position on the ranking of Spanish exporting regions, representing 10.9% of the total national amount and with a growth rate that not only overtakes the abovementioned national average but also confidently exceeds the Euro Area and EU rates, as well as those of the main exporting countries in the EU like Germany (13.8%), France (14.9%) or Italy (18.4%).

In this context, Huelva is the province that increases its sales between January and November the most (52% more with regards to the first eleven months of 2020, reaching a total of 7,516 million euros, this being 23.6% of the total). Reaching this first position was an achievement already attained by Huelva in 2015, but the impact of the pandemic in 2020 heavily damaged this rank and reduced exports in 4,947 million euros. This positive increase in 2021 takes place in parallel to the initiatives conducted by the Chamber´s Exporters Club, which proves that we are on the right path. However, we must bear in mind that there are still many more markets to explore and conquer and that the richness and quality of Huelva´s products have tremendous potential – particularly industrial suppliers of materials like copper, foundry, chemical products or minerals; energy suppliers or the agro-food sector.

Caja Rural del Sur has been historically linked to the development of the agro-food sector in Andalucía. As a consequence, we have been supporting its internationalisation efforts in financial terms through the years – especially through second degree cooperatives – to ensure that their international operations are safe, agile and fast, and that the profits return to local producers as quickly as possible after sales take place in foreign markets. Caja Rural del Sur has a specialised international business department composed by professional agents trained in varied financial operations linked to this type of market. This department mainly assists in the direct financing of exporting operations, and in some cases also of importing operations from productive countries during months in which lands are not cultivated in the regions in which we operate. Additionally, it also supports the sector on Brexit-related matters consequence of the new framework in place and we provide assistance with euro-pound exchanges.

As president of Caja Rural del Sur, I have reiterated in different forums how important it is to be aware of the economic profile of the countries to which we export our products and to closely examine all particularities of the markets where prices are decided. This forces us to constantly improve and refine our processes, professionally managing companies and cooperatives in order to reach profitability and effectiveness. As we can see in the referred 2021 data and considering the impact that the pandemic should continue to have on all management structures, the efforts we´re making are clearly helping to reactivate the Andalusian economy, which is becoming a frontrunner in the Spanish recovery process.

With the support of Banco Cooperativo Español, our international business department responds to our analysis of the current demands in terms of specialisation and knowledge of markets and international financial services. In this line, we are in permanent contact with local agents who need all kinds of support in order to export their products and collect their payments as speedily as possible – something we achieve through export advanced payments. We also support companies as well as first and second level cooperatives in getting to know how other markets work and how other foreign competitors operate by participating in a wide range of international trade fairs like Fruit Attraction in Madrid or Fruit Logistica in Berlin.

Caja Rural del Sur firmly believes that cooperation with the productive sectors shall be done in an organised and regulated manner. This is why we nurture close relationships with organisations representing the interests of the sector – something we attain through our Foundation by signing collaboration agreements to modernise and improve the structure of these sectors which each year face strong competition in order to position their products abroad while following high standards of quality and setting competitive prices in international markets.

Having this goal in mind, Caja Rural del Sur and its Foundation collaborate with the Exporters Club of the Chamber of Commerce of Huelva in different initiatives, and encourage them to continue with their mission of making our companies stronger by promoting exchanges between public administrations and paving the way for better communication with economic agents and governments abroad with a view to building fruitful trade relations.