The employer’s association Foment del Treball published an interesting report last November on the Catalan business structure, placing special emphasis on the relationship between size and competitiveness. The report begins with a review of the substantial increase in per capita income that brought about in the 19th and 20th centuries due to “Catalonia knowing how to benefit from the disruptive impact posed by the industrial revolution.” In 2008, Foment del Treball and the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce co-led the Industria XXI Plan, which demonstrated the importance of industry in the Catalan economy, not just due to its direct impact but also to the repercussions it has on the service sector (distribution and logistics, maintenance, production services, etc.), which represented 37.3% of gross value added. Taking this data into consideration together with the GVA of industry (20.32% in 2008, 20.76% in 2016), the 2008 Plan reported an industrial sector that represented more than 50% of the GDP.
Although, unfortunately, no further data on the indirect impact of industry on services have been produced, simply verifying the importance of industry and its recovery following the financial crisis has changed some attitudes in our society, making them less inclined toward clichés and more willing to participate in responding to needs through training and infrastructures, which are essential to meeting the challenges of the new industry.
The current situation is no exception. A recent report by Foment confirms that “industrial activity does not respond to the political situation.” It is only natural that Catalan industry, which exports one third of its production and invests approximately €4 billion each year in tangible assets alone, is not affected by a local political crisis. In fact, the industrial production index shows a 7.8% increase in Catalonia in October of 2017. And in the first 10 months of this year, it has increased by 3.4%.
At FemCAT, we have always defended the importance of industry in our country’s competitiveness. And not just any industry, but one that is involved in educating young people through tools such as dual vocational training, in innovating through fluid relationships with universities, in applied research through industrial doctorates and the transfer of knowledge – an internationally renowned industry that can compete on a global scale in equal conditions. We’re off to a very good start, which means we can be optimistic. The challenges the industry is facing do not differ much from that of society in general. With a strategic vision, training, critical examination and ambition we can progress as a society and, at the same time, maintain and improve the reputation as an industrial hub that Catalonia already boasts.
President of FemCAT
Article published in the Tribuna d’Economia de La Vanguardia (19/12/2017)