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    Walloon businessmen cautiously optimistic

    The economic upturn is slow in Wallonia, and although figures are pointing the right way, with expected growth reaching 1.1%, the general trend seems vulnerable. This assessment is one of the results of the study led by UWE (Union of Walloon Businesses), which polled over 350 business leaders to present their traditional bi-yearly stock-taking of the economic situation. According to UWE, the decrease in energy prices and in the value of the euro will benefit Walloon companies. European Central Bank policies are also moving things in the right direction. But Walloon businessmen remain cautious. They foresee an improvement in their prospects, but think it will remain slight, as other elements lead them to remain vigilant. The world economic situation is complex, as is the situation within the Eurozone. Some countries (Spain and Portugal) seem to be recovering, while Germany and France, the main destinations for Walloon exports, had a difficult 2014 and the optimism which seems to be reappearing is still quite limited in France.

    UWE thinks the BCE’s (European Central Bank) easing of monetary policy and the downward spiral of energy prices – which decreases costs for businesses – will benefit Walloon economic development. Consumers are growing more confident as well, but business investments will stay weak, as will recruitment, because the general economy remains too vulnerable. UWE reckons the economic growth rate in Wallonia will be 1.1% in 2015, whereas it should reach 1.5% in Belgium and in Europe.

    Christopher Vincent (Source: Belga)