Economic Trends/Outlook in Belgium

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Economic Overview

Following the year 2009, most chaotic regarding the economy and marked by the global recession, the GDP growth has again become positive in 2010. It is estimated at 1.6% and is lead by strong public spending and the newly-found dynamism of international trade. Prospects for 2011 are hardly more optimistic.


The crisis has left Belgium in a difficult financial situation: the country faces a large public debt, the budget deficit has deepened, which has prompted the European Council to open an excessive deficit procedure. The government however refuses to adopt austerity measures and instead has decided to set up an economic stimulus plan.

Belgium is a prosperous country and its GDP is among the highest in the world. Nevertheless, regional disparities remain strong; Wallonia faces a worrying problem of structural unemployment.

Main Indicators 20092010201120122013
GDP (billions USD) 472.10465.68e499.40e518.07e534.40e
GDP (Constant Prices, Annual % Change) -2.72.0e1.7e1.9e1.9e
GDP per Capita (USD) 43,552e42,630e45,367e46,703e47,806e
General Government Balance (in % of GDP) -3.0e-2.9e-2.8e-3.0e-3.1e
General Government Gross Debt (in % of GDP) 96.2e97.1e97.3e97.4e97.8e
Inflation Rate (%) -0.02.3e2.9e2.3e2.1e
Unemployment Rate (% of the Labor Force) 8.0e8.4e8.4e8.2e8.2e
Current Account (billions USD) -1.25e-2.24e-0.60e2.08e-
Current Account (in % of GDP) -0.3e-0.5e-0.1e0.4e-

Source: IMF - World Economic Outlook Database

Note: (e) Estimated Data


Main Sectors of Industry

The Belgian economy is largely orientated towards services. In fact, the tertiary sector accounts for almost three fourths of the national wealth. Brussels, which is home to several European institutions, numerous diplomatic missions and different interest groups, has created an economy which is based essentially on services.


The industrial sector accounts for practically a fourth of the GDP. There are significant discrepancies between the three Belgian regions. While Flanders has succeeded in developing the second largest petro-chemical sector in the world, Wallonia is in the middle of restructuring, following the closure of several collieries and a large number of steel industries. Brussels distinguishes itself in the areas of telecommunication, software development and in pharmaceutical and automobile industry.

Agriculture contributes a small amount to the Belgian economy.

Breakdown of Economic Activity By Sector Agriculture Industry Services
Employment By Sector (in % of Total Employment) 1.8 24.7 72.8
Value Added (in % of GDP) 0.7 21.7 77.6
Value Added (Annual % Change) -0.4 -6.7 -1.5

Source: World Bank - Last Available Data.

For more detailed background on Industries in Belgium, click here.

Indicator of Economic Freedom

Mostly free
World Rank:
Regional Rank:

Distribution of Economic freedom in the world
Source: 2011 Index of Economic freedom, Heritage Foundation


Country Risk

See the Country Risk Analysis Provided By Ducroire.


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