Inauguration of the third set of locks for the Panama Canal, June 2016
2016, both at a global level and in general terms, has been characterised by an improvement in the outlook for economic growth, thanks to the good performance of the world’s major economies: United States, Japan, Canada and the majority of the euro area and EU countries. Both the U.S. Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank continued to provide monetary stimulus policies during the year, though the USA has raised interest rates for the second year running. On the other hand, emerging countries’ economies continue to suffer, with commodity prices failing to recover, aside from oil, which spiked sharply compared to 2015. Oil’s recovery has led to prices beginning to rise once again, after the falls experienced in the last few years.
The Spanish economy, measured in terms of GDP, grew by 3.2% in 2016, the same figure as recorded the previous year. This is the third year of positive growth, following six years of contraction. In terms of the trade balance, 2016 set a new record for the export of goods, which reduced the trade deficit by 22.4%, down to 18,754 million euros. Thanks to the competitiveness of our economy, and the depreciation of the euro against the U.S. dollar, exports rose by 1.7% to 254,530 million euros, whilst imports fell by 0.4% to 273,284 million euros.
The European Commission’s forecasts for Spain in 2017 and 2018 are fairly encouraging in all key components: In 2017, it expects an increase of 2.7% in GDP, and of 2.4% in 2018, mainly due to increased domestic demand as a result of employment growth. Exports should also continue to grow thanks to the improved competitiveness of the Spanish economy. Regarding the unemployment rate, levels of around 17.7% and 16% are expected in 2017 and 2018, respectively.