As the global economic crisis took hold in 2008, Spanish exports to the United States began to fall. But last year, as a percentage of total U.S. exports, products from Spain were at a higher level than before the crisis.
Spain sent $11.8 billion worth of merchandise to the United States last year, a 7 percent increase over 2011, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. It ranked as the 11th most important source of merchandise imported into the United States.
Spanish trade with Florida also fell off during the recession, but in recent months, the Spanish economy has shown some signs of perking up and trade with the Miami Customs District, which includes airports and seaports from Palm Beach to Key West, was up slightly during the first half of this year.
That’s especially true for imports. During the first seven months of 2013, Spanish imports through the Miami district reached $201.5 million, compared to $187.6 million during the first seven months of 2012, according to an analysis of U.S. Census data by WorldCity, a Coral Gables media and data research company.
Among the biggest sectors are tiles and food and wine, said Buisán, who promotes Spanish investment and trade ties in a region that includes Florida as well as Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee, Texas and Oklahoma.
But sometimes Spanish products destined for Florida arrive via New York or other ports, he said.
“It’s not easy to reach a perfect conclusion about trade, but with more Spanish firms here, it’s very likely there’ll be an increase in the flow of trade in the next few years,’’ Buisán said.
Angel Santibañez, proprietor of Brisa de España in Doral, is doing his part when it comes to trade.
“Nearly everything you see is imported. About the only things that aren’t are the Coca Cola and the Pepsi Cola, and we’re working on getting people to have wine with their meals,” said Santibañez as he looked around his business — a combination Spanish store, bakery, sandwich shop and restaurant in Doral.
Brisa de España is packed with paella pans in sizes from four to 120 servings; Spanish hair products; creams and black Magno soap; plates for serving olives; Valor chocolate bars; canned white asparagus; jarred baby eels; frozen bacalao; crystal wine decanters; cruets for oil and vinegar; children’s flamenco dresses; Colocao powdered chocolate mix; a wide variety of olive oils; all manner of canned and jarred olives and sardines; and even fresh fish that arrive on overnight flights from Spain.
Imported hams, including the coveted pata negra produced from pigs that graze on acorns and costing $95.50 per pound, hang from the ceiling. And Santibañez already has started to receive shipments of some 30 varieties of turrón, the nougat candy made from almonds and honey that is a Christmas staple.
He works with 10 to 12 food distributors who supply his wine, ham, cheese, chorizo, beauty supplies and some other products. But Santibañez imports his ceramics, crackers and cookies, olive oil, turrones, chocolate, lentils, fava beans and other dry goods directly. The varied products are put together by a consolidator in Valencia and he brings them in by the container-load.