Some Spanish bio-based products are highly dependent on the foreign sector to satisfy its total supply

Members of the Markets and Financial Analysis Research Group at URV have analysed the Spanish bioeconomy products and their influence on the foreign sector. Their results are a useful tool for developing policies focused on fostering the bioeconomy and economic growth in Spain

With 740MW capacity, the Ironbridge power plant located in the Severn Gorge, UK, is the world's biggest biomass power plant. Credits: Powerstations.uk

The world is currently facing major problems related to the environment that impact climate change, such as resource scarcity, excess waste generation and an increase in greenhouse gas emissions. Within this context, the debate emerges about the current economic model that must be reconsidered, focused mainly on environmental protection. Thus, the bioeconomy emerges as an opportunity to focus on a more sustainable economy and it is considered a priority for the European Union, since the launch of its first strategy in 2012.

To promote the Spanish bioeconomy, the impact and variables that may influence its development must be explored further. In this context, Valeria Ferreira, Laia Pié and Antonio Terceño, from URV’s Department of Business Management, have carried out an in-depth study of the Spanish bioeconomy that analyse the economic importance of their products and their influence on the foreign sector and the rest of the economy.

In their work, the researchers used the Bioeconomy Social Accounting Matrix (BioSAMs) for Spain -which includes a detailed breakdown of the bioeconomy accounts, such as bioenergy, biofuels, and bioindustries- and applied two methodologies based on multisectoral linear SAM models, which enables analysing the linkages between the different accounts of an economy.

One of the main conclusions is that some bioeconomy products -such as agriculture, food or biomass- are important and, by promoting their final demand, they can positively influence the rest of the economy, since they will have an above-average backward impact on the rest of the economy. This impact is represented by their input suppliers for the consumption of other products, capital and labour, and to a lesser extent by imports. However, the analysis of the influence of the foreign sector indicates that some products within the bioenergy (biofuels), bioindustry (biochemical and textiles), and agriculture (cereal, oilseed and industrial crops), despite not having an above-average multiplier effect, are products whose dependence on the external sector is significant and that, therefore, any increase in their demand will include the necessary imports within the increase in inputs. These are products whose Spanish production is not yet well developed, and the influence of the foreign sector shows by imports stand out in the total supply.

The results of the study give us the opportunity to understand the behaviour of the bioeconomy in Spain and to provide key information to policymakers in decision-making processes related to plans and investments for the promotion of the Spanish bioeconomy.

This research, recently published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions and from URV. The doctoral thesis of Valeria Ferreira is in line with this study. She is one of the 45 doctoral researchers contracted through the URV’s Martí i Franquès COFUND Programme in its first edition.

Reference: Ferreira, V.; Pié, L.; Terceño, A. The Role of the Foreign Sector in the Spanish Bioeconomy: Two Approaches Based on SAM Linear Models. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17, 9381. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17249381

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