National bank forecasts 1.7% economic growth in 2017, 2018

National bank forecasts 1.7% economic growth in 2017, 2018
(c) Belga

Belgium’s economy should grow by 1.7 % in 2017 and 2018, according to projections by the National Bank of Belgium, BNB, presented on Friday. This is better than expected since the previous growth estimate for 2016 had been 1.6%. The economy is expected to grow by 1.6% in 2019 and 1.4% in 2020, according to the BNB’s estimates.

Belgium is thus below the European Union average growth rate, which is 2.2% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2017.

However, Belgium has been performing well in terms of translating growth into jobs. In fact, the Belgian job market is doing “very well” according to BNB Governor Jan Smets, with no fewer than 69,000 jobs created in 2017. Employment creation is expected to continue, albeit at a slower pace, amounting to 54,000 jobs in 2018, 38,000 in 2019 and 30,000 in 2020. This would bring the total number of jobs created in the 2014-2020 period to 309,000, according to the BNB.

The unemployment rate should also drop, from 7.8% in 2016 to 7.3% in 2017, then 7% in 2018 and 6.9% in 2019-2020.

Public finances were in better shape than originally predicted. The budget deficit is expected to have been halved between 2016 and 2017, going from 2.5% of GDP in 2016 to 1.2% in 2017.  It is projected to drop to 1.3% in 2018 then rise slightly to 1.5% in 2019 and 2020.

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