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  1. Analysis
3 March, 2022

How has Covid-19 impacted the FDI relationship between the US and Spain?

Covid-19 caused FDI levels to plummet in 2020 before a recovery in 2021, but did the relationship between the US and Spain follow this pattern?

By Glenn Barklie

In 2020, the US received 1,696 greenfield foreign direct investment (FDI) projects, while there were 499 projects recorded going into Spain, according to GlobalData’s FDI Projects Database.

The number of projects into the US fell sharply in 2020, decreasing by 11% from 2019. During the same period, the number of greenfield FDI projects into Spain fell even further, by 24%.

US outbound FDI into Spain

US-based companies created 96 projects in Spain in 2020. This represented a 7.7% decrease compared with 2019.

Nominally, US-based companies primarily invested in software and IT services, consumer goods, and communications and media sectors in Spain. Combined, these three sectors accounted for 40% of total US outbound FDI projects destined for Spain in 2020.

Proportionally, Spain received a larger share of US outbound FDI in consumer goods (9% of total US outbound FDI in the sector), renewable and alternative power (8%), and construction and real estate (7%) sectors.

Top US-based investors in Spain included Amazon, Marriott International and Hilton Worldwide. Combined, these companies accounted for 19% of total project flows in 2019–20.

In terms of total US outbound FDI projects, Spain ranked as the ninth-largest recipient country in 2020. It was the 12th-largest recipient in 2019.

On a regional basis, US-based companies primarily established operations in Catalonia. In fact, 37% of projects into Spain by US companies were located there in 2020. The Community of Madrid and Andalusia were the next most popular subnational destinations.

Spanish outbound FDI into the US

Spanish-based companies created 52 projects in the US in 2020. The number of projects increased by 44.4% compared with 2019.

Financial services, software and IT services, and automotive were the top sectors in which Spanish companies were investing in the US. Combined, these three sectors accounted for 54% of total Spanish outbound FDI projects destined for the US in 2020.

In terms of sector market share, the US attracted a larger market share of Spanish outbound FDI in financial services. The US accounted for 55% of total Spanish financial services outbound FDI projects.

Top Spain-based investors in the US included BBVA, Iberdrola and Acek Desarrollo y Gestion Industrial. Combined, these companies accounted for 33% of the total number of Spanish-headquartered projects established in the US in 2019–20.

The US ranked as the leading recipient country of Spanish outbound FDI in 2020. It was the second-largest recipient in 2019.

Spain-based companies primarily established operations in Texas. In 2020, 35% of all Spanish outbound projects destined for the US were created in the state. Florida and California were the next most popular subnational destinations.

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