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Country Forecast Spain January 2018 Updater

Country Forecast Spain January 2018 Updater

  • January 2018
  • ID: 362258
  • Format: PDF
  • The Economist Intelligence Unit


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  • In November 2016, following two inconclusive general elections, the conservative People's Party (PP) formed a minority government led by the prime minister, Mariano Rajoy.
  • Spain has been plunged into a severe constitutional crisis by a referendum on independence in Catalonia, held on October 1st, which Mr Rajoy badly mis-handled. The vote led to a unilateral declaration of independence by the regional parliament on October 27th.
  • The government subsequently suspended home rule and dissolved the regional parliament in order to hold a snap regional election. Pro-independence parties won a majority with about 48% of the vote, and are expected to re-elect Carles Puigdemont as regional president. This will set the stage for continued tension.
  • The Economist Intelligence Unit forecasts that Catalonia will remain part of Spain over the next five years, but that relations between Catalonia and the state will remain strained, as will those between nationalists and unionists within the region.
  • We do not expect a national election over the near term, but as the immediate threat to territorial integrity subsides, a snap vote will be a considerable risk. Mr Rajoy is unlikely to complete his four-year term to 2020.
  • Following a deficit of 4.5% of GDP in 2016, we estimate a shortfall of 3% of GDP in 2017. The deficit will fall to 2.6% of GDP this year and average 1.4% in 2019-22. Public debt is expected to fall to about 86% of GDP by 2022.
  • Economic reforms in 2011-15-including substantial modifications to labour regulations, pensions and the tax code, among other policy areas-have improved the business environment. However, the pace of reform will remain substantially slower, not least because of the Catalan conflict.
  • Following an expansion of 3.3% in 2016, we estimate real GDP growth of 3.1% in 2017 (revised from 3%) and forecast growth of 2.3% this year (previously 2.1%) and an average of 2.1% in 2018-22.
  • After a an estimated current-account surplus of 1.8% of GDP in 2017, we expect the surplus to average 1.1% in 2018-22, buoyed by respectable export performance even as the country's import bill rises.

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