Spain "is a good country" that is "going through tough times" amid economic stagnation and a 26.1 percent unemployment rate, philanthropist Bill Gates said in an interview with Efe in Mexico.

"There is a very direct correlation" between regulation and business creation, Gates said in response to a question about what Spain could do to spur business and job growth.

"It's hard, investment in education and deregulation are hard to do when you have a tight budget. But Spain will have to make these investments in the future," the billionaire Microsoft co-founder said.

"In Europe, there has been more entrepreneurship in the United Kingdom and the Nordic countries, but they have been less regulated," the billionaire, co-chair and trustee of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said.

European economies generally "are very regulated markets compared with the United States in terms of the ability to hire and fire people, work hours," Gates said.

William H. Gates III is the world's second-richest person, with a fortune estimated at $61 billion.

Gates, however, has given away a large chunk of his fortune for a variety of social, educational and health projects.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is the world's wealthiest charitable organization, boasting a $38 billion endowment.

Gates stepped down from the helm of Microsoft in June 2008 to focus on his philanthropic work. EFE