Spain's year-on-year figures have outperformed those of the eurozone. / A. Gorriz

Spain is no longer the fastest-growing country in the eurozone

Economists have cut the GDP forecast for this year to 3.8% and for next year to 0.9%, well below government expectations

EDURNE MARTÍNEZ MADRID.

The Spanish government has often said that Spain is the fastest-growing economy in the eurozone despite the slowdown caused by the war in Ukraine, but figures published by Eurostat on Monday have cast doubt on that because the average growth of countries in the eurozone in the third quarter of this year was 0.2%, the same as Spain, and in Italy (0.5%) and Portugal (0.4%) it was double.

While in the second quarter of the year the Spanish economy grew by 1.5% compared with the previous quarter and the eurozone only grew by 0.8%, it has now levelled off because of the slowdown in Spain which has occurred despite the boost from the summer tourism season.

The countries within the bloc whose economies grew the most in this period, where figures are available, were Italy (0.5%), Lithuania (0.4%) and Portugal (0.4%) while others such as Germany (0.3%), where economists have been forecasting an economic recession this year, also outperformed Spain and France remained at the same level (0.2%).

However, at a year-on-year level the figures from Spain did outperform those of Europe, with a growth of 3.8% in the third quarter compared with 2.1% in the eurozone. This is what the Ministry of the Economy refers to when it says that the Spanish economy showed “the second-highest year-on-year growth in the EU”, behind only Portugal (4.9%).

Forecasts downgraded

Various organisations have reduced their forecasts for growth in GDP, especially in 2023, but the General Council of Economists (CGE) has gone a step further after seeing the results for the third quarter of this year and is estimating zero growth in the fourth quarter. This would mean that in 2022 GDP grew by only 3.8%, six points below government forecasts.

In addition, looking ahead to the first quarter of 2023, they expect the economy to contract by 0.3% and grow by only 0.9% in the whole year, six points below their previous forecasts and 1.2% below the government estimates. This is the most pessimistic forecast so far, because the IMF, OECD and Bank of Spain are predicting that the Spanish economy will grow by between 1.1% and 1.5% next year.