Catalan industrial exports grow by 8.8% over the first quarter

Sales of industrial goods to non-EU markets increased by 28% between January and March. Catalan industry reached a record in 2011 by exporting €55.19 billion in goods. However, the sector continues to lose jobs, which makes it more competitive in return. Also, industrial investment increased by 2.4% in 2011.


July 3, 2012 12:27 AM

Barcelona (ACN).- Industrial exports shape Catalonia’s road to recovery from the economic recession. Between January and March, despite the economic recession, exports increased by 8.8% compared to the previous quarter, according to data from Catalonia’s Annual Industry Report, presented this Monday in Barcelona. In addition, exports to non-EU markets grew by 28% over this period. If the first quarter’s trend is to be continued over the year –which seems likely– 2012 could be another record year. In 2011, Catalan industry reached the annual record, exporting a total of €55.185 billion in goods, 13.5% more than in the previous year. However, as indicated by the Catalan Minister for Business and Employment, Francesc Xavier Mena, the Catalan industry continues to lose jobs, accumulating four consecutive years of job  losses in this sector. Mena explained the phenomenon by saying that the sector is going through a profound transformation. The Catalan Minister compared the industrial sector to “a cocoon” and he said that “when the butterfly will be born”, it will have been transformed into a more competitive industry, but with  fewer jobs. In fact, the Catalan industry has gained competitiveness by reducing labour costs, as the number of jobs in this sector dropped by 16.5% in 2009, by 3.4% in 2010 and by 6.1% in 2011. This competitiveness gain made the Catalan industry recover very quickly from the 17.9% export drop in 2009, growing by the  same figure in 2010 and increasing by 13.5% in 2011.

The Catalan Minister for Business and Employment presented the ‘2011 Annual Report on Catalonia’s Industry’, which  has been  in publication  since 1993. 2011 was marked by being the year  in which Catalan companies had their largest turnover abroad.

Also, industrial investment increased by 2.4%, which is the highest figure since 2008, when it represented 2.2%. In fact, last year’s 2.4% investment increase breaks the two year trend of investment drops (-22.9% in 2009 and 8.5% in 2010).

Mena emphasised that despite the current economic recession, which made the Catalan GDP drop by 0.5% over the first quarter of the year and the industrial GDP drop by 0.6%, Catalan companies managed to increase their exports by 8.8%, in comparison to the end of 2011. Furthermore, most of these exports  are related to high-technology goods.

Forecasts for 2012 are positive, although the Minister refused to provide concrete figures. However, Mena stated that the 8.8% trend could be sustained over the year, if the global economy manages to fight recession and return to growth. Mena emphasised that sales abroad are “the main driver to leave the crisis behind”.

All the industrial sectors increased their sales, although around 100 companies  hold a large share of the exports. Mena explained that one of the Catalan Government’s priorities is to increase this base of exporting companies and fostering mergers and partnerships in order to improve SME export capacity.

Companies producing transport materials, machinery and chemical products increased their exports by 15%. Those producing rubber, plastic materials, oil derivates and metal derivates had their exports grow by 22.5%. Finally, companies working in the agri-food, textile, paper, wood and graphic arts production increased their exports by 12.7%.