Over the last decade, the Ceará economy has been one of the most buoyant in Brazil and regularly posts higher GDP growth than the country as a whole. Figures for 2021 confirm this trend. In addition, the state’s strategic position and solid industrial sector are both factors in favour of a good year in 2022.
The state broadsheet, Diario do Nordeste, recently asked experts from key sectors of the Ceará economy for their predictions for the year. In this article, we sum them up.
Principal economic figures for 2022
But first, some background. In Q3 last year, GDP in Ceará yet again exceeded the national rate. Ceará grew by 4.78%, ahead of the 4% registered in Brazil. As a result, accumulated GDP in Ceará in 2021 stood at 8.65%, two full percentage points ahead of Brazil (6.4%).
Industry showed particularly solid results in 2021. The sector expanded by 6.2% in Ceará, again considerably more than Brazil where industry grew by 5% last year.
Increase in competitivity for Ceará economy
For Ricardo Cavalcante, President of the Federation of Industries in Ceará (FIEC), the economic figures for 2021 augur well with this year. He points out the opportunities for new levels of industrial development in Ceará in both the traditional and innovative sectors. For the former, he highlights residential construction and metal and for the latter, renewable energies such as green hydrogen and the economy of health.
Cavalcante lists three factors that will change the face of industry and the economy in Ceará over the next 12 months: the increase in competitivity, the integration into global chains of value and the digital transformation. For his part, he believes that Ceará overcame several challenges in 2021.
Confidence in healthy state bank balance
Ceará is one of the few states in Brazil that has kept a firm hand on its debt and, as a result, has one of the healthiest bank balances in the country. For Emilia Buarque, President of Ceará Business Leaders (LIDE Ceará), this bookkeeping will act as a major advantage for the state this year.
She underlines the state’s stability, but points out that Ceará needs to look to alternatives to move ahead. For Buarque, green hydrogen is one of them, but she emphasises that it’s essential to think of other sectors such as tourism and the services sector.
“We continue to have confidence in the strength of our businesses, in our leaders who have made Ceará one of the few states with little debt in the country and people’s resilience,” she said.
Celebrating Pecem Port’s 20th anniversary
One of the main drivers of the industrial sector of the Ceará economy is Pecem Port, celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. Daniel Serpa, President of the Port Complex, uses figures for 2021 as the solid base for expectations in 2022.
He says that Pecem Port has its best year ever in 2021 with the highest cargo movements in its history. In November, they were already ahead of those registered in 2019, the previous best year.
Serpa believes 2022 will continue this trend, particularly on the back of the 21 Memorandums of Understanding signed in 2021. The majority of these were between Pecem Port and Ceará on the one hand and green hydrogen investment companies on the other.
Favourable scenario for construction
Civil construction stands out as a pillar of the Ceará economy, creating employment and improving economic and social conditions. As a result, the sector enjoyed a particularly buoyant year in 2021.
“Civil construction is currently enjoying one of its biggest booms of the last few years,” said Patriolino Dias de Sousa, President of the Ceará Civil Construction Syndicate (Sinduscon-CE). “The Ceará property market continues its upward trend even with higher interest rates and we’re one of the main drivers of the economy.”
For Dias de Sousa, the future is full of “new and promising horizons”. He believes that the scenario is highly favourable for sales and job and wealth creation.
Promising outlook for energy
2021 saw the increase of climate emergency awareness with renewable energy at the forefront of alternatives to coal. Ceará is one of the pioneer states in the country and saw an exponential rise in the use of sustainable energy sources.
According to Luis Carlos Queiroz, President of the Ceará Energy Syndicate (Sindienergia-CE), by the end of 2021, 25,000 inhabitants were using solar power in Ceará. The figure represents an increase of 100% compared to 2020. He also highlights the arrival of green hydrogen in the state.
“Our outlook for 2022 is highly positive,” said Queiroz. “We expect continued growth in the sector in several directions and moving towards a larger supply of energy, and most importantly, one that’s widely available, cheaper and sustainable.”
Most domestic flights from Ceará
Tourism forms another essential part in the backbone of Ceará economy, although its scenario is less certain than other sectors. However, Andrea Pal, CEO of Fraport Brasil, emphasises her optimism. “I believe that we’re moving forward and steadily out of this situation,” she said.
Pal underlines the excellent figures for domestic travel at Fortaleza Airport in December. Passenger traffic was nearly 93% of the level seen before the pandemic. “We’re optimistic for next year,” she said while recognising that prospects for international flights are less certain.
(Source: Diario do Nordeste)