Yearly report on Catalan Industry 2016

Evolution of the Catalan economy in 2016

In 2016, Catalonia’s total GDP grew 3.5%. This figure was three tenths higher than the Spanish figure, more than double the Eurozone figure (1.7%) and the highest recorded figure in Catalonia since 2007. It can be seen, therefore, that, if in 2014 the Catalan economy began to grow again, in 2015 and 2016 this growth speeded up.

In terms of sectors, after the primary sector (usually conditioned by climatological factors), industry was the most dynamic (4.0%), followed by construction (3.2%) and services (3.1%).

Catalan industry in 2016: best results in recent years

Catalan industry’s main indicators showed their best results in recent years, with the increase in industrial activity being noteworthy, both in terms of gross value added (GVA) and industrial production index (IPI):

  • The industrial GVA increased by 4.0% year-on-year, the highest rate in the last 6 years and well above the Eurozone (1.6%) and Spain (2.4%). 
  • The industrial production index (IPI) increased by 3.3% during 2016, also the highest rate for the last 6 years and higher than that of the Eurozone (1.4%) and Spain (1.6 %).

These positive economic results were accompanied by the highest level of business confidence seen in the last nine years:

  • The 2016 average for the industrial confidence indicator (ICI) was 1.4 points higher than the previous year and the highest of the last nine years. This situation was better than that of Spain as a whole, where the annual average was 1.5 points lower than in the previous year. In the European Union, the average annual ICI increased by just three tenths of a percentage point compared to 2015. 

As regards prices, the industrial price index (IPRI) of Catalonia experienced an average drop of -3.6% during 2016, compared to -2.7% in 2015. Energy prices were the main cause of the fall, given that prices of industrial products (not including energy) fell just -0.6%.

The solid nature of the industrial activity and business confidence also had positive consequences for the job market:

  • Industrial employment, measured through Social Security affiliates, increased by 2.7%, representing the third consecutive year of job creation. 
  • The increase in industrial employment in Catalonia meant that registered unemployment fell by 16.1% during 2016, the best figure since 1998.

Foreign Trade

In 2016, Catalonia exported goods worth 65,160 million euros, 2.0% more than the previous year. The European Union (especially France, Germany and Italy) is the main area of origin (59.6%) and destination (65.8%), although there are large differences between member countries. Also, it is worth noting an increase in exports to China (9.0%), as well as a decrease in foreign trade (inputs and outflows) with Central and South America. 

In terms of sectors, the high technological content sector (office machinery, computers, electronics, pharmaceuticals ...) showed the fastest growth, 8.9% over the previous year, 30.2% of the total Spanish figure. 

Imports increased by 2.0%, a slowdown compared to the previous year (5.6%). The coverage rate was 83.2%. In Spain, imports fell by 0.4%.

Foreign Investment

Foreign industrial investments were positive in 2016 showing a growth of 7.8% over 2015 and representing 29.3% of the total foreign investments in Catalonia and 20.2% of the foreign industrial investment in Spain as a whole. 82.4% came from EU countries, although mention must be made of the increase in investment from Latin America, Asia and Oceania, even though the volume itself was low. Industrial investment abroad fell by 33.8%.


Foreign investment in Catalonia MEURO % growth % Cat/ Esp
Total 4,856.6 -1.3% 20.7%
Industrial 1,422.3 7.8% 20.2%


As regards total industrial investment (both internal and external), this increased in Catalonia by 2.9% in nominal terms in 2016, according to the spring 2017 Industrial Investment Survey. The factors that negatively affected corporate investment decisions were the financial situation, economic policy and fiscal regulations. Technical factors, such as workforce qualifications and access to new technologies, and, moderately, the evolution of demand favoured corporate investment decisions.

The Ministry of Business and Knowledge of the Catalan Government -Directorate General for Industry- publishes this report since 1993.

2016 was a very good year for Catalan industry, as the main indicators showed the best results in recent years. Industrial GVA and IPI grew at the highest rate in the last 6 years. The level of business confidence was the highest in the last 8 years. It was the third consecutive year of job creation in industry

From a sectorial point of view, the evolution of the automotive, motorcycle and railway material sectors was noteworthy.