5 reasons for an optimistic 2015

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We ended 2014 with an economic balance that leaves us with five pieces of good news. The first one is that the Catalan economy created jobs in 2014, for the first time since the start of the crisis. The second one: the industrial sector has confirmed its recovery and started to create employment, mainly thanks to the good results obtained by the Catalan external sector. In addition, construction has left recession behind, after 7 consecutive years of decline. The fourth piece of news is related to retail sales, which slightly increased in 2014, for the first time since the start of the crisis. And, finally, we have the good results registered by the tourism sector during 2014, mostly thanks to the increase of foreign tourism and the recovery of domestic tourism.

Catalonia's Index of Business Confidence shows a generalised improvement of the business perspective during the first quarter of 2015. In addition, it enlarges the distance in relation to the same indicator for Spain as a whole. These are figures from the quarterly survey compiled by the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce, which is made up of more than 3,000 business establishments. According to these calculations, the Catalan economy will grew by 2% in the first quarter of 2013 and by 2.3% in the second quarter. Therefore, the economic activity's growth pace will speed up even during the first quarter of 2015 and will keep this high level during the second quarter.

Such a favourable attitude of the Catalan economy in early 2015 has brought us to review and increase our annual growth forecasts. In this vein, the growth forecast for Catalonia's GDP for 2015 is 2.5%. In the Chamber we think that private consumption and investment will grow at a higher level than that of GDP, while the external sector will continue to show a negative contribution due to the increase in imports.

The factors that are contributing to improving the forecasts about our economic evolution are both internal and external. The internal ones are, mainly, the increase in competitiveness, which by being added to a better international environment, has brought our exports up to record figures. And, secondly, the job creation deriving from the change of economic expectations and the increase in investment. Regarding external factors, we should mention the Euro's depreciation, the drop in interest rates and the intense fall in oil prices.

For these reasons we can state, as a conclusion, that the Catalan economy has evolved very well at the end of 2014. The pace of economic acceleration, which will be sustained during the first months of 2015 and obliges us to review and increase to 2.5% the growth forecasts for 2015, is due to the internal and external factors that foster the activity, which are particularly favourable in Catalonia. These are figures that allow us to face with optimism the upcoming months and to think that the overall economic recovery is a little bit closer.

by Miquel Valls i Maseda

President of the Chamber of Commerce, Trade and Navigation of Barcelona (Cambra de Comerç, Indústria i Navegació de Barcelona)

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