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Marta Sintas

Mr. Rudebusch

English Comp IV

18 Dec 2017

Analisis of arguments against the Economic Viability of Catalonian Independence

Catalonia is a region located on the north-east coast of the Iberian Peninsula and

bordered on the north with Andorra and France, to the west with Aragon, to the south with the

Valencian Country, and to the east with the Mediterranean Sea. The capital is Barcelona. Since

1922, when Francesc Macia funded the first independence political party, there have been

many attempts to do something to liberate Catalonia, but it was not until October 1 of 2017

when Catalans were able to vote between two choices in a referendum: for or against Catalan

independence from the Spanish State. The police of the Spanish State (known as the National

Police) endeavored to take the polling boxes where Catalans were voting to stop the vote. The

voting took place in barricaded buildings (most of them state schools) to protect the boxes

containing the votes. With the intent to collect the boxes and stop the voting, the National

Police used all types of repressive measures, from rubber bullets, tear gas, and batons. Nearly

900 people were seriously hurt, and two were reported to be in critical condition in area

hospitals. However, it was a victory of the population over the Central State and its police. The

repression failed to stop the referendum, with 2.5 million voting (approx. 43 percent of the

electorate) and 90 percent favoring independence. Besides Spain, there are many individuals
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that believe that Catalonia should remain part of Spain. They say that is too small and cannot

prosper without natural resource, among other reasons. However, Catalonia could remain

economically viable if they split from Spain.

The most common argument is to say that Catalonia is too small to be able to be an

independent country. However, there is no reasonable economic theory that a country should

have a minimum size to be viable or that big countries are more viable than small ones; in the

world in which we live, the growth rate or income per capita of the economy isn’t related to the

size of a country. It is not true that the biggest countries are the most economically successful.

For instance, among the poorest countries in the world there are three of the largest countries.

According to the World Bank data, China, India, and Russia are three of the top five poorest

countries. Three of the smallest countries in the world are also the richest: Belgium, Holland,

and Switzerland.

Manuel Teruel, president of the Spanish Chamber of Commerce, sees Catalonia’s

secession as a move that would put them in direct competition with Madrid: "It is not enough

to compete with Paris, London, New York, or Hong Kong, but now Barcelona also wants to

compete with Madrid?" This logic is also flawed. Catalan companies are already competing

today with companies in the rest of Spain, whether or not they are the same political unit.

Interregional competition is not as big as the international one. Certainly, the Catalan hotels of

the Costa Brava compete with Italian, Moroccan and Greek hotels, but it is also true that the

greatest competition comes from the southern coast of Spain or even the hotels on the

Tarragona coast.The hypothetical independence of Catalonia, therefore, would not bring any
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substantial increase in the degree of competition that companies Catalonia should face. And if

it happened, then it would be welcome because, as we all know, any increase in competition

tends to bring better quality and lower prices.

In this line, another argument against independence is that leaving Spain would be

"suicide" since Spain is the biggest market. It is true that Spain is the largest market for

Catalonian companies.Why do Spaniards buy Catalonia’s wine and spend their summer

holidays in the Costa Brava? Because they love Catalans as good compatriots? Or maybe

because the price and quality of the products are better for them? Clearly, this is the true

answer and as independence does not change the price or the quality, the markets would not

have to lose each other.

It is normal for the biggest international market to be that of the neighboring country.

The largest market in Mexico is the United States of America. The largest market in Taiwan is

China and the biggest market in France is Germany. Now, maybe this means that these

countries must become the same political unit? Does someone really believe that this is an

argument favorable to Mexico becoming the fifty-first state of the United States? In this case,

Catalonia is a mix of all these examples: Taiwan and Catalonia have a similar area (13,974 mi²

and 12,397 mi² respectively) but the difference between the areas of Germany and France are

more similar to the difference between Catalonia and Spain than Taiwan and China. Also the

exchange of products between Germany and France are more similarly equal to that of Spain

and Catalonia, as we can read in the study of the number at the International Monetary

Foundation web (Catalonia - Spain is a 27.03% and Germany - France is a 26,96 with a similar

GDP).
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Another argument against independence is that a country cannot prosper without

natural resources such as arable land, gas, or oil, and Catalonia does not have them. This is also

completely wrong. For example, the economies of Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and

Taiwan underwent rapid industrialization and maintained exceptionally high growth rates

(more than a 7 percent every year) between the early 1960s and 1990s as we can find in the

World Bank web. By the early 21st century, all four had developed into advanced and high-

income economies industrialized developed countries, that mean that they are not producers, of

oil or natural gas, and the fertile land they have access to is very limited; in fact, Hong Kong

and Singapore not only don’t produce any natural resources they are only city-states . Now,, if

we apply this argument in our context, it is true that Catalonia, despite enjoying a large amount

of fertile land, does not produce some of these natural resources, but neither does Spain.

Therefore, in this case this theory against the hypothetical independence would not have any

sense.

Another argument against independence is that “the dissolution of countries now is

against the current trend, when Europe is nearing a common currency, fiscal system,

military, and one political system” (Carreras, translated by Sintas). These words of one of

the representatives of Spain in the European Council is not acceptable for two main

reasons. First, it is not true that the trend at the end of the 20th century is to have fewer and

larger countries, because the number of countries in the world is increasing and has been

increasing over the last 50 years. In 1946 there were 74 countries in the world and now

there are 195, as you can find in the worldometers.info website. For this reason, the

speculative premise of this argument is simply false. Second, the theory is based on the
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presumption that Europe as a single political unit is desirable. Third, it does not follow

logically that this is a good argument suggesting that Catalonia should be part of Spain,

because it would still be able to be part of Europe if it became a new country, as opposed to

another region in Europe.

In conclusion you can’t know for sure how Catalonia as a new country will work, but

that doesn’t mean that Catalonia can say how they would like it to be. The first thing that must

be clarified is that Catalonia would be economically viable. Actually, the richest and most

competitive countries in the world are those that have the same dimensions as Catalonia, such

as Switzerland. Switzerland has a population of 6 million (exactly like Catalonia) and

approximately 15,940 square miles (exactly like Catalonia). Being an independent country

would guarantee that it would be a small country, such as Switzerland, but not that it would be

a prosperous country, like Switzerland. Independence is not a guarantee of anything. It is

simply the opportunity to do things differently. Independence, then, is not the magic solution to

all the problems but it is the guarantee that they would have the tools to find the solutions.

Work Cited

APNews Staff. “The Latest: Catalonia: 90 percent vote for independence.” AP News.

Associated Press, 2 Oct 2107. Web. 14 Nov 2017.


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Carreras, Albert. “La viabilitat economica de la Independencia”.Ara.cat. ARA. Jan 14, 2017.

Web. 17 Nov 2017.

Cinco Dias staff. “¿Es viable una Cataluña independiente?”. Cincodias.elpais.com. Ediciones

EL PAÍS s.l.t. Sep 23, 2017. Web. 17 Nov 2017.

Diario Critico staff. “Salvador Alemany también ve viable económicamente la independencia

de Cataluña”. Diariocritico.com. Cibeles.net. Nov 3, 2017. Web. 14 Nov 2017.Europa Press

staff. “Guindos ve la independencia de Cataluña como

completamente irracional" desde el punto de vista económico”. Europapress.es. Europa

Press. Nov 8, 2017. Web. 14 Nov 2017.

The Conversation Staff. “Catalonia, Spain and the economic consequences of a split”.

Theconversation. The Conversation US, Inc.October 12, 2017. Web. 14 Nov 2017.

Kottasová, Ivana. “What about Spain?”. Money.cnn. Cable News Network. A Time Warner

Company.

October 2, 2017. Web. 14 Nov 2017.