Industrial production in the Canary Islands has grown by 6.9% in the first quarter of the year, the highest growth since 2007 in that period of the year and well above the growth experienced by the average for the sector in Spain as a whole for the same period (2.1%). This was reflected in the Industry Sector Bulletin prepared by the Research Department of the Chamber of Commerce of Santa Cruz de Tenerife.
All branches of activity contributed to this advance, the most important in relative terms being the production of capital goods, whose growth was 17.1% compared to the first three months of the year 2023, followed by the production of non-durable consumer goods (8.3%), energy production (4.5%), durable consumer goods (4.3%) and, finally, the production of intermediate goods (3.9%).
The agriculture ndustry, the most important in the Canary Islands, has undoubtedly benefited from the increase in consumption, both by residents and by the thousands of tourists that the archipelago has received, but as can be seen in the evolution of the different branches of activity, all have experienced considerable progress.
In the opinion of Raquel Malo, president of the Industry Commission of the Chamber of Commerce of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, these data show how “Canary Islands industry has shown enormous resilience to Covid and the current war between Russia and Ukraine, with global repercussions for the sector that have led to a shortage of some raw materials, an increase in transport costs and an unprecedented rise in energy prices”.
From the employment point of view, there is also an important dynamism. The average number of Social Security affiliates in the industrial sector, which increased by 1.1% in the first quarter of the year compared to the same period last year, recorded a total of 39,239 workers at the end of March, 449 more than in 2022.
With regard to unemployment registered in the employment offices, the quarterly average falls by 11.2% compared with the first quarter of 2022, leaving the figure at 6,915 unemployed in March, 987 less than a year earlier (-12.5%).
RECOVERING JOBS LOST IN THE PANDEMIC
The figures for the employed had not been recorded since April 2019, recovering the employment lost during the pandemic and that, in the case of the unemployed registered in the public employment offices, would have to go back to May 2008.
A good evolution of production and employment that is also corroborated by the latest Business Confidence survey, in which 26% of industries in the Canary Islands stated that they had improved their business results in the first quarter of this year compared to the fourth quarter of 2022, and 55% stated that their activity had remained stable between the two periods.
In Raquel Malo’s opinion, “the fact that industry has been able to recover the activity and employment lost, despite adding difficulties to the structural ones inherent to a small and remote territory such as the Canary Islands, should make us reflect on the potential of this sector to continue growing and to increase its participation in the region’s GDP”.
In his opinion, “the Canary Islands need a powerful industrial policy if it really wants to commit to the diversification of its economy and quality employment, and for this it is necessary to obtain the fiscal and budgetary instruments necessary to help the sector to meet the important challenges in which it is currently immersed, such as the technological revolution, digitalisation, the cost of energy and transport, dependence on raw materials, the scarcity of land, the requalification of the workforce and internationalisation, among others”.
He also believes that it is important to continue working on increasing the number and size of industrial companies, as after the pandemic the sector has experienced a slowdown in its growth rate.
Thus, the latest statistics on companies registered with Social Security, compiled by the ISTAC using data from the Ministry of Labour, show that in the Canary Islands in March there were a total of 2,839 companies with workers registered in industrial activities – this figure does not include companies without employees.
This figure represents an annual decrease of 2.5%, 73 fewer companies than in March 2022, due to the fall in manufacturing industries (-71) and in water supply, sanitation, waste management and decontamination activities (-4), as extractive industries did not suffer any variation and electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning activities grew by 2.
For Malo, “there are many opportunities and fields for industry to continue to grow on the islands in traditional sectors, but also in new niches such as those related to the circular economy, energy or technology, among others, and which will be accompanied by quality labour demands for which we have to prepare now”.
In this sense, he believes that it will be key to “promote Dual Vocational Training as a particularly interesting option when it comes to training new profiles, without forgetting the need to retrain current workers, who may need a training boost in digital matters as a result of the transition to an Industry 4.0 model”.
In this way, he says, “we will ensure that the Canary Islands have a more varied productive fabric and, therefore, a more competitive and resilient one”.
CANARY ISLANDS INDUSTRY: SHORT-TERM FORECASTS
The forecasts for the second quarter of the year continue to be moderately positive, with 25% of companies stating that they expect to continue to increase their activity compared to the first three months of the year, compared to 18% that expect to see a reduction, a positive balance that is reinforced by an increase in the percentage of companies that expect to maintain their activity (58%).
Taking into account these forecasts and the business results during the first quarter, the Business Confidence Indicator for Canary Islands industry shows stability, registering only a slight increase in the second quarter of the year of 0.2%.
In line with the activity forecasts, employment also remains stable with a slight upward trend, as 86.3% of the companies surveyed expect to maintain their workforces and 8.1% believe that they could see them increase, compared with only 5.6% who estimate a possible reduction.
Prices will continue in a moderately inflationary environment, with 22.5% of companies expecting price increases compared to 10% who believe that they will be reduced in the period from April to June, while the vast majority (67.2%) believe that they will remain stable.
In fact, during the first quarter of the year and according to the Industrial Price Index (IPRI) published by the National Statistics Institute, industrial prices in the Canary Islands showed, for the first time since the end of 2020, a decrease during the first quarter, registering an interannual variation rate of the quarterly average of -11.1%, contrary to the behaviour of the national average where they increased at a rate of 4.8%.
According to the economic destination of the goods, the fall in the general index was exclusively due to energy (-26.4%), as the price of the rest of the goods increased, specifically intermediate goods by 12.3%, non-durable consumer goods by 10.8%, capital goods by 5.5% and consumer durables by 5%.