In accordance with its European Union membership, Spain applies the European Union (EU) rules that are in force in all European Union countries. While the EU has a rather liberal foreign trade policy, there is a certain number of restrictions, especially on farm products, following the implementation of the CAP (Common Agricultural Policy): the application of compensations on import and export of farm products, aimed at favouring the development of agriculture within the EU, implies a certain number of control and regulation systems for the goods entering the EU territory.
Moreover, for sanitary reasons, regarding Genetically Modified Organisms (after being allowed in the European territory), their presence should be systematically specified on packaging. Beef cattle bred on hormones is also forbidden to import.
The BSE crisis (often called the "mad cow disease") urged the European Authorities to strengthen the phytosanitary measures to make sure of the quality of meats entering and circulating in the EU territory. The principle of precaution is now more widespread: in case of doubt, the import is prohibited until proof is made of the non-harmfullness of products.
The process of privatisation that was initiated at the beginning of 1990's intensified and moved on to various sectors. Furthermore, the encouragement of liberalisation in sectors like telecommunications, electricity and natural gas should create new business opportunities.
The Spanish European Union membership facilitates the direct establishment of foreign investors under various forms ( representative office, subsidiary etc.). Indeed, the direct investment is only subject to an afterwards declaration, once the investment is made.
The main economic areas of Spain are Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao, Valencia, Sevilla, Vigo's port and its free trade zones.