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Barcelona Chamber of Commerce President: Catalonia’s economy works better than Spain’s

The President of Barcelona Chamber of Commerce, Miquel Valls, stated on Thursday that the independence process was not affecting Catalonia’s economic recovery. During a press conference, Valls emphasised that such a statement was based on concrete “facts”. He stressed that Catalonia had tripled the amount of incoming foreign investment compared to the Spanish average, and that the Catalan economy had also registered better figures in enterprise creation and business confidence, employment and other indicators showing an economic recovery According to the report on conjecture and economic perspectives, the Catalan GDP grew by 0.7% during the fourth quarter of 2013, whereas the Spanish GDP dropped by 0.1%. Valls also recalled that the consultation vote on the political future of Catalonia would involve “citizens and not businesses”, thus responding to the employers who recently voiced their opposition to Catalonia’s independence.

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13 February 2014 08:01 PM

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ACN

Barcelona (ACN).- The President of Barcelona Chamber of Commerce, Miquel Valls, stated on Thursday that the independence process was not affecting Catalonia’s economic recovery. During a press conference, Valls emphasised that such a conclusion was based on concrete “facts”. He pointed out for instance, that Catalonia had tripled the amount of incoming foreign investment compared to the Spanish average. He also underlined that the Catalan economy had registered better figures in enterprise creation and business confidence, unemployment levels and other indicators showing an economic recovery. According to the Chamber’s report on conjecture and economic perspectives, the Catalan GDP grew by 0.7% during the fourth quarter of 2013, whereas the Spanish GDP dropped by 0.1%. Valls also recalled that the consultation vote on the political future of Catalonia would involve “citizens and not businesses”. With such a statement he undermined the opinions of employers, such as the President of the CEOE, Joan Rosell and a group of 60 German businesspeople, who recently voiced their opposition to Catalonia’s eventual independence.


Valls also referred to the Catalan economy’s prospects for 2014. The President announced that the estimates for the Catalan GDP growth had been revised upwards, as they expected to achieve good results in the tourism and car-industry sectors. Valls has not advanced any specific figure regarding GDP growth and recalled that the Chamber released such data in April. However, he explained job creation was expected to take off in the second quarter.  

More newly-created businesses and higher business confidence in Catalonia

The Chamber’s report on conjecture and economic perspectives reveals that the net creation of businesses in Catalonia was superior to the Spanish average during both the fourth quarter and the entire year. While in Spain, in yearly terms, the number of newly-created businesses has grown by 5.5%, Catalonia has achieved an 8.2% increase.

Valls also referred to business confidence, which has improved the most in Catalonia and reached higher levels than the Spanish average. The business confidence index in Catalonia has achieved superior results during all four quarters of the year while the gap with Spain was widened during the last quarter of 2013. The almost 2-point-average difference registered in 2013 was replaced by a 4.7-point difference at the start of the first quarter of 2014.

Catalonia achieved better figures regarding job creation and foreign investments

The Catalan economy has created jobs in annual terms during the fourth quarter of 2013, which has not been the case in Spain, according to the Active Population Survey (EPA). To be more specific, employment has grown in Catalonia by 1.9% in the fourth quarter compared to the same period in 2012, making the annual decline more moderate and inferior to the Spanish figures.

Foreign investment has grown almost four times more in Catalonia than in the whole of Spain, with increases by 69.2% and 17.5% respectively between January and September 2013.

Tourism has evolved a little better in Catalonia than in Spain during the last quarter of the year: the growth in overnight stays in the fourth quarter is four percentage points higher in Catalonia than in Spain. For the whole of 2013, the growth is identical at both Catalan and Spanish level, amounting to 1.9%.

A fall in consumption and loans

The total number of loans (in the public and private sectors) has also fallen less in Catalonia than in Spain, with decreases by 10.7% and 13.3% respectively in the January- September period since the previous year.

Household consumption has fallen a little more sharply in Catalonia than in Spain in the third quarter, which is the latest available data, but the average figure for the first three quarters of 2013 shows a drop inferior to the Catalan economy.

The Catalan GDP drop was milder than the Spanish one

According to Valls, all of this explains why the Catalan GDP’s drop has been twice as low as the Spanish GDP’s one, with decreases by 0.6% and 1.2% on the previous year, according to the latest official estimates. The better performance of the Catalan economy during the second half of the year has widened the gap between the two economies.

Exports and investments in capital goods have grown more at Spanish level

Regarding the export of goods and services, they have grown less in Catalonia than in the whole of Spain, for each of the quarters of 2013. The average growth in the first three quarters reached 5.6% in Spain, whereas in Catalonia it was set at 1.9%.

This difference is mostly due to the evolution of exports in the car-industry and capital goods. One of the main reasons is a change in production for one of the largest car companies based in Catalonia, where the manufacturing of one model was replaced by another. This has led to a stagnation of exports in the car-industry in Catalonia.

The difference regarding capital goods is due to the increase in exports of Airbus plane parts, which are manufactured in Madrid, Spain’s second largest exporter. As for investment in capital goods, its evolution is also favourable to Spain, where it has begun to grow in the third quarter in annual terms. Therefore, the average drop in the three quarters of 2013 is lower in Spain than in Catalonia with decreases by 1% and 5.6% respectively.

Industrial investment in 2013 grows by 1.2% in Catalonia and drops by 17% in Spain

One of the main indicators of investment, the industrial production of capital goods, shows no difference between Catalonia and Spain. This indicator is growing at a similar rate at both levels, by 1.4% and 1.3 % per year, respectively. Finally, the latest estimates regarding industrial investment in 2013 reveal an annual growth of 1.2% in Catalonia, while in Spain, such investments dropped by almost 17%.

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  • The President of Barcelona Chamber of Commerce, Miquel Valls (right) on Thursday (by J. R. Torné)

  • The President of Barcelona Chamber of Commerce, Miquel Valls (right) on Thursday (by J. R. Torné)
Miquel Valls: facts show that the independence process is not damaging the Catalan economy