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Spain to grow 'nearly one percent' in 2014: minister

AFP/The Local · 28 Jan 2014, 10:20

Published: 28 Jan 2014 10:20 GMT+01:00

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The official government prediction for the year is 0.7 percent growth, following a contraction of 1.2 percent in 2013, according to estimates by the Bank of Spain.

"Growth in 2014 will be nearly 1.0 percent but the revision will be included in our stability programme when it is released before the end of April," de Guindos told reporters ahead of a meeting of EU finance ministers in Brussels.

"If it is true that the outlook for 2013 is better than initially believed, then logically the momentum with which we enter 2014 is bigger than we initially thought," de Guindos said.

Spain, with the eurozone's fourth-biggest economy, has been struggling since 2008 when the collapse of a property bubble nearly brought down the banking system as the debt crisis bit.

The subsequent recession has been deep and damaging, with the country hit by record high unemployment, still running at around 26 percent, and at one point looking as though it would need an international bailout.

SEE ALSO: Seven shocking facts about Spanish unemployment

De Guindos said earlier on Tuesday that Spain's economy was improving because of "difficult decisions" taken by the conservative government.

"Two years ago we were on the verge of collapse but thanks to the difficult decisions taken ... the situation is totally different now," he said at the launch of a book on growth and jobs in Europe by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

"We are starting to see the results," he said.    

The government, which took power in December 2011, has enacted a series of reforms to ease business conditions, including making it easier to lay off staff.

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But the IMF has warned that Spain faces five more years with unemployment rates topping 25 percent unless it enacts yet more reforms including measures to help firms slash wages.

Recently the International Monetary Fund revised up its 2014 growth estimate for Spain from 0.2 percent to 0.6 percent.

The IMF also predicts Spain's growth rate will be lower than all the other major European economies except for Italy, also expected to experience 0.6 percent growth.

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.es)

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