Pedro Sanchez said Spain's economy was defying the 'prophets of doom'
Pedro Sanchez said Spain's economy was defying the 'prophets of doom' AFP News

Spain's economy grew faster than expected in 2022 as strong domestic consumption and a surge in investement offset worries over high inflation, officials figures showed Friday.

Despite soaring energy and food prices fuelled by the war in Ukraine, the economy grew by 5.5 percent, similar to the previous year and well above the government's target of 4.4 percent, according to an initial estimate by the National Statistics Institute (INE).

"Despite the prophets of doom, we have strong economic growth, the lowest inflation in Europe and record employment," tweeted Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, saying the figures showed "the strength and resilience of the Spanish economy".

The INE said the growth figures reflected a strong performance in spring when gross domestic product rose by 2.2 percent between April and June thanks to steady household consumption.

That boost offset a sharp slowing of activity towards the end of the year -- when GDP grew by just 0.2 percent in the third and fourth quarters -- in a context of high consumer prices that affected economies across Europe.

In Spain, inflation reached an average of 8.4 percent last year, peaking at 10.8 percent in July, INE figures showed.

But it has slowed in recent months, falling to 5.7 percent at the end of December, one of the lowest figures in the Eurozone.

Spain "has demonstrated a notable resilience" in a "very difficult" context, Economy Minister Nadia Calvino said earlier this week, noting its growth levels were well above the European average, estimated by Brussels to be 3.3 percent.

"We are starting 2023 on a good footing."

The government believes the dynamic will enable Spain to maintain solid growth this year although its target of 2.1 percent is far lower than the figure for 2022.

Even so, the prediction is far more optimistic than that of institutions like the IMF which sees the economy growing by 1.1 percent.

Among Western economies, Spain was one of the worst hit by the economic fallout of the pandemic, with its GDP collapsing by 10.8 percent in 2020, largely due to its heavy dependence on tourism.

The IMF believes Spanish growth will only reach pre-pandemic levels in 2024.