Average GDP growth in Wallonia should reach approximately 1.1% for 2015, according to bi-annual economic forecasts by the Walloon institute for evaluation, forecasts and statistics (IWEPS) published on Friday. The institute previously forecast a 1.3% growth rate. Employment forecasts are also less optimistic, with an increase of 0.4% this year (4,400 jobs), compared to 0.5% forecast only 6 months ago. The deceleration of economic growth in some emerging countries and the stagnation of Euro-zone industry in the second half of 2014 affected the optimism of economic actors, explains the public institute.
Although the fall in oil prices gave European economies a boost, as they mostly import petroleum products, the positive effect on European manufacturers’ outlook remains “limited for now”, according to Iweps. “However, the recent upturn in international economic perspectives leads us to think that once launched, recovery in Wallonia could be faster than previously thought,” they add.
Walloon exports should benefit from “stronger industrial exchanges within the EU, and in particular from the upturn in manufacturing recently noticed in Germany,” in the second half of 2015. Manufacturers are expected to gradually boost exports, although they will pace themselves due to lingering difficulties in France where businesses from the south of Belgium find most of their clients. Foreign trade recovery should help investments “increase”.
Employment figures will also improve, but later, as companies will usually want to boost their productivity first.