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Protectionism is a 'historical mistake,' Spain's new finance minister says

  • Speaking to CNBC Thursday, Roman Escolano, the recently appointed finance minister of Spain, said that Madrid is not enjoying some decisions that are destabilizing global free trade.
  • "Protectionism is a historical mistake," Escolano told CNBC's Joumanna Bercetche at the sidelines of the World Bank/IMF spring meetings.
  • "We do not like the talk about protectionism, we don't like the action," Escolano said.
Angel Navarrete | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Spain joined several other countries in voicing its opposition against rising trade tariffs and other protectionist attitudes.

Speaking to CNBC Thursday, Roman Escolano, the recently appointed finance minister of Spain, said that Madrid is not enjoying some decisions that are destabilizing global free trade.

"Protectionism is a historical mistake," Escolano told CNBC's Joumanna Bercetche at the sidelines of the World Bank/IMF spring meetings.

"We do not like the talk about protectionism, we don't like the action," Escolano said.

His comments come after tensions over global trade rose in the aftermath of President Donald Trump's decision to increase duties on metals in early March. Since then, there has been additional tariffs also imposed on China, sparking fears of a global trade war. Such concerns have translated into financial markets.

'The job is not done' 

The new finance chief of Spain also told CNBC that the southern European economy has been growing at a solid pace of about 3 percent in the last four years, but this doesn't mean that the problems raised during the euro zone sovereign debt crisis are over.

"We are quite optimistic for this momentum to be sustained … We've seen a different path of growth ... This time the growth is based on exports and it's based on private investment," Escolano said.

Adding that however "the job is not done."

He mentioned that Spain still has a very high level of debt, both public and private, and unemployment is still a burden.

"We are very mindful of the challenges ahead of us, but if the growth is sustained we will have good prospects ahead of us," he said.