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The right business partners for Spain

Swiss exporters sent goods worth more than 5.5 billion francs to Spain in 2017. This makes the country one of the most important export markets for Swiss companies in Europe. But how do SMEs take their products and services to Spain? Beat Kuster, Consultant for Southern Europe at S-GE, explains the role of a business partner and why a branch office is not absolutely necessary for successful export.

New form: exclusive salespersons have established in Spain
New form: exclusive salespersons have established in Spain

A new trend has developed when exporting to Spain: many exporters no longer work with distribution partners, but with an exclusive salesperson. “This strategy has the advantage that this sales person only works for one company,” explains Beat Kuster, Consultant for Southern Europe at Switzerland Global Enterprise. “As long as local employment law is respected, a Swiss company can directly contract a local employee in Spain.” According to Beat Kuster, the Spanish market can easily be tapped without having to found a local company. However, it should be noted that such a salesperson is not allowed to generate sales in Spain. Otherwise, you run the risk of creating a permanent establishment and becoming liable to pay tax. This means that all orders and deliveries must be processed via the company in Switzerland.

Advantages of a branch office

According to Beat Kuster, there are also export projects for which a branch office in Spain is recommended. “On the one hand, a branch office can be advantageous if companies in the country want to hire more staff and the country turnover has become large enough to settle locally. On the other, experience shows that Swiss companies need a local company if they want to maintain state or parastatal business relations.” As Beat Kuster explains, this helps with the perception on the ground. But not just this: a branch office can also be an advantage for public tenders, because the state as client might prefer a local supplier for faster reaction with regard to product liability.

Are you looking for a suitable sales partner in Spain or would you like to open a branch office? Switzerland Global Enterprise supports Swiss SMEs with a needs assessment and helps them to find the right business partner. S-GE works closely with Swiss Business Hub Spain, which is familiar with the interests of Swiss companies, understands the language and culture and disposes over a broad network. Additional information

Differences in accounting

If Swiss companies want to start a subsidiary in Spain, they must be aware of the additional expenditure for fiduciary expenses compared to the costs in Switzerland. “The black market is still significant in Latin countries. In the fight against it, the Spanish state pays special attention to companies. This can be seen, for example, in fiduciary activities, where the state rigorously checks companies’ documents and is much more involved in the process than Swiss companies are used to. “The additional accounting expenditure in Spain is not always understandable for Swiss companies, but it is necessary,” says Beat Kuster.

Interpersonal relationships as a basis for success

Whether it involves an exclusive business partner or a local branch office, interpersonal relationships are the basis for all business activities in Spain, regardless of who a Swiss company works with. “Spaniards initially want to get to know the people from Switzerland, for example, to meet them for lunch and build trust. Only later will factors such as quality or price come into consideration,” explains Beat Kuster. “One big mistake would therefore be for Swiss exporters to discuss a price with a business partner in Spain without getting to know each other personally and, where possible, only communicating via email.” Beat Kuster knows that building such a relationship indeed takes a lot of time. However, he repeatedly notes that such business relationships are very stable over the years, if the product also offers value for money.

Exporting to Spain

Would you like to sound out your business opportunities in Spain without obligation? We accompany you on your path into new markets: with specific information, experienced consultation and a global network of experts. We inform you about relevant developments in global markets, mediate contacts and partners and point out new business opportunities. Additional information

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