Barcelona Chamber of Commerce has said this morning that "the overall development of the Catalan economy continues" to be positive, and that it will close the year with growth of around 3% for the whole 12 months, which would be higher than the growth of the Spanish economy as a whole. The chamber's president, Miquel Valls, said that they expect an "easing of the growth rate for the fourth quarter". As such, they've lowered their growth predictions to 3% for 2018 and 2.5% for 2019, "mainly due to the international context".
The body's situation report for the third quarter 2018-19, concludes that "the economy is maintaining a high and constant growth rate until the third quarter, higher than the whole of Spain". According to the chamber, "the development of the GDP has been very positive" this quarter, with growth of 0.7%, but "business expectations are worsening" and, as such, "we forecast an easing in quarterly GDP growth to 0.6%". Despite this downwards revision, however, Valls praises the fact that "Catalonia stands out for having recorded growth of 2.8% or more for four consecutive years".
The chamber dismissed the bank BBVA's predictions for Catalan growth of 2.5% for 2018 and 2.3% for 2019: "forecasts which are very far from reality," they say.
Valls placed special focus on infrastructure, an area he believes to be stalled, especially when it comes to logistics: "Logistics is the future and we cannot allow ourselves collapses in this type of infrastructure".
The chamber's president was referring primarily to road and rail access to Barcelona's port and the lack of progress on the Mediterranean corridor. "We don't see that there's attention on the part of the administrations paid to this type of infrastructure", he said, "there's been a general overlooking of infrastructure in Barcelona in the last twenty years, and in the next few months, we'll place special emphasis on that at the chamber".
He also warned that a measure which will force builders to reserve 30% of new or refurbished properties for protected housing in the Catalan capital could "paralyse" construction. "The city council's decisions are endangering the construction of housing in the city of Barcelona", he said in today's press conference. He said it's producing a "situation of uncertainty" and called for them to not "play to the gallery" on matters which are "of great importance to the economy of Barcelona and Catalonia".
In the same vein, he said he's noted a "deceleration in the growth of registrations in the construction sector" and that "the number of houses under construction is entering into negative territory this 2018" in Catalonia.
The job market, weakened
One of the chamber's worries is job creation. Valls warned that the rate of job creation in the third quarter this year has been 2.4%, "the lowest of the last four years". This is "clearly below Spain as a whole", the report says, "which hasn't happened since the start of the economic recovery".
By sector, industry, services and construction have recorded slowing job creation rates. This "allows us to confirm that the deceleration is global", the chamber says.