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    Coronavirus: dire predictions for Belgian economy

    The Belgian economy could shrink by up to 4% in 2020. Credit: Belga

    The Belgian economy is likely to shrink by almost 4% this year, according to UC Louvain’s Institute for Economic and Social Research (Ires).

    Even with a gradual reduction in the government’s far-reaching coronavirus (Covid-19) measures, around 22,000 Belgians lose their jobs and there could be an increase of up to 35,000 job seekers, Ires predicted.

    This prediction is based on the assumption that the spread of coronavirus can be stopped after a lockdown period of six to eight weeks.

    Any sustainable economic recovery will only be possible if all measures are taken to avoid a second wave of infections, cautioned Ires. 

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    The institute stressed a great amount of uncertainty. “The Covid-19 crisis is an evolutionary and unprecedented event and, to date, apart from business survey data, no tangible data yet allow us to assess the extent of the economic impact,” they said.

    Before the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, Ires had predicted a 1% growth in GDP for Belgium in 2020.

    Millions of Belgians are currently collecting temporary unemployment due to coronavirus as the lockdown measures forbid them to practice their profession. While Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès announced a phased termination of the lockdown, it remains unclear as to when and how this would happen. 

    Jason Spinks
    The Brussels Times