Wallonia is expected to achieve slightly lower medium-term economic growth than Flanders, and a bit less than the national average, according to the regional economic prospects for 2016-2021, published on Friday by Belgium’s Federal Planning Office and the regional statistical institutes of Wallonia, Flanders and Brussels. Economic growth in 2014 was stronger in the Flemish region (1.5%) than in Wallonia (1.3%) and Brussels (1%) and the gaps increased slightly in 2015, with GDP growth amounting to 1.6% in Flanders, 1.1% in the Walloon Region and 0.9% in the Brussels-Capital Region, according to the estimates published on Friday.
The year 2016, marked by slower growth in exports and domestic demand, will see a slight decrease in economic growth in the Flemish Region (1.4%) and the Brussels-Capital Region (0.8%). Both have been more severely affected by the macro-economic impact of the attacks perpetrated earlier this year. The Walloon Region’s growth is expected to stabilize at 1.1% this year.
Accelerated growth is to be expected in all three regions next year (+ 1.7% in Flanders, +1.3% in Wallonia, and +1.4% in Brussels). The economic growth forecast for 2018-2021 is +1.6% for Flanders and an average of +1.4% in Wallonia and Brussels. Belgium’s average growth for the period is estimated at 1.5%.
While weak, this growth will be accompanied by job creation. Close to 24,100 persons are expected to find new jobs each year in Flanders – a cumulative total of about 169,000 for 2016-2021. New jobs are projected to increase annually by 9,200 in Wallonia (about 65,000 for the entire period) and by 5,400 (cumulative total of about 38,000) in the Brussels Region.
Unemployment is expected to continue decreasing in all three regions: from 8.3% in 2015 to 6.5% in 2021 in Flanders; from 16% to 13.3% in Wallonia and from 19.7% to 17.4% in Brussels.
Christopher Vincent (Source: Belga)