STAFF REPORTER

PALMA
THE economic slowdown could last for two years, according to the President of the Majorcan Chamber of Commerce, Joan Gual.
Gual said yesterday that the slowdown would last between one and two years if the international situation improved. He added that the strength of the islands' tourist sector would enable the Balearics to overcome the current problems in the economy but that it had to diversify its product.

The Chamber President was speaking after a meeting with the Balearic President, Francesc Antich, the Minister for the Presidency, Albert Moragues, the Minister for Economy and Finance, Carles Manera, and the Minister for Commerce, Industry and Energy, Francesca Vives.

Gual presented a number of proposals to Antich about how to help businesses on the islands. Among them was the proposal to transfer the management of the airport and the simplification of administration for businesses.

The Chamber President said that the Government and the Chamber coincided on many aspects in their diagnosis of the economic situation. He said that he was confident that the tourist sector would continue being the “engine” that drove the Balearic economy.

Gual said that Balearic companies were currently facing a shortage in demand that was caused by a number of external factors that neither they nor the Government could alter, such as the rise in the cost of fuel, the increase in food prices and the lack of liquidity.

He said that it was only a matter of time before things would start to improve, between “one or two years”.
Gual said it was important in order for the Balearic economy to continue growing that the right economic structure was in place. In this sense, he added, the environment had to be respected and better training for workers be developed.

He also pointed out that the tourist sector had to develop new products outside of the traditional one of sun, sea and sand.

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