The governor of the National Bank of Belgium (NBB), Jan Smets, announced during the Friday presentation of the autumn economic forecasts of the NBB that Belgium has returned to growth in recent quarters, as the euro area. He added however that this growth “remains hesitant, despite a gradual recovery.”
The NBB expects Belgium’s gross domestic product (GDP) to go from 1.4% this year to 1.3% in 2016 and 1.6% in 2017. Still, the bank is less optimistic than last spring, when it forecasted the growth at only 1.2% this year, 1.5% in 2016 and 1.7% in 2017.
While the Belgian growth was above the euro area average during the crisis, the situation is starting to shift, since the growth of the GDP in the Eurozone is expected to reach 1.6% this year, 1.8% in 2016 and up to 1.9% in 2017.
The improvement in this economic situation in Belgium and its neighbours is thanks to the sharp fall in oil prices. Consequently, this frees purchasing power, boosting domestic demand and the depreciation of the euro, which in turn strengthens the competitiveness of Belgium and the euro area.
The NBB also plans to create 114,000 jobs in 3 years, primarily in economically sensitive sectors such as agriculture, industry, construction, trade, catering, transport or real estate. The National Bank of Belgium also predicts a decline in the unemployment rate, from 8.7% in 2015 to 8.4% in 2016 and 8.1% in 2017.