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Catalan GDP surpasses pre-recession levels for the first time

The Catalan economy grew by 3.5% to €223.6 billion, according to Idescat

The Catalan economy grew by 3.5% in 2016 to reach €223.6 billion, according to data released on Thursday by the Statistical Institute of Catalonia (Idescat). 2016 was, therefore, the first year in which the Catalan economy has exceeded pre-recession levels.

The best year to date had previously been 2008, when Catalan GDP reached €216.9 billion. It subsequently sank to its lowest point in 2013, with €203.2 billion. The recovery began in 2014, when GDP hit €208 billion, which was consolidated in 2015 with €215.6 billion, only €1.2 billion below 2008 levels.

According to figures released by Idescat, the Catalan economy is growing at a faster rate than the Spanish economy. This is shown by the fact that while Catalonia has already exceeded its record high of 2008, Spain has yet to exceed its record levels of GDP, in spite of experiencing good growth in 2016. Spain's GDP in 2016 stood at €1.11 trillion, some €2.4 billion less than its 2008 high.

Idescat has confirmed that the Catalan economy grew by 3.5% in 2016, 0.3 per cent higher than the growth of the Spanish economy, at 3.2%, and more than 1.5% above the European Union average, which grew by 1.9%.

Industry was the main engine of economic growth in 2016. According to Idescat, on the supply side, industry grew by 4%. In terms of sectors which experienced the highest growth, construction was next (3.2%), followed by services (3.1%). Although its overall contribution is much lower, recovery in the agricultural sector was notable, with a growth of 10.1%.

In terms of demand, domestic demand continued at a healthy pace, with a 3.2% hike, despite a slight slowdown compared to 2015. According to Idescat, this is mainly due to a slowdown in the growth of government and household consumption, both of which grew by 2.7%. Nevertheless, gross fixed capital formation showed strong growth of 5.2%, partly due to investments in construction, which rose by 4.6%, exceeding the 4.5% growth in investment in capital goods.

Foreign trade showed a bigger increase in its contribution, with growth of 0.6%, whereas in 2015 it had failed to show any growth. The 2016 trade balance showed a negative contribution, however, with -0.3%. This result reflects the remarkable dynamism of imports, which grew by 8% across the whole year, compared with exports, which grew by 4.1%.

Changes in the 2016 gross domestic product reveal a slight slowdown in the second half of the year. While annual growth stood at 3.8% during the first two quarters, it fell to 3.4% in the third quarter and to 2.8% in the fourth quarter.

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