Belgian economy fires up

Unit labour costs have reduced during the last two years. Belgium is described as a “strong innovator” and the balance of trade in goods was positive for the first time in seven years. This positive news emerges from the fourth edition of the Dashboard for the Belgian Economy which was published today (Wednesday) by the FPS Economy.

The FPS Economy explains, ”In total, 12 of the 19 updated indicators showed positive development. This thus allowed Belgium to strengthen its competitive position, compared to neighbouring countries. The next six-monthly Dashboard should, hopefully, show us that this positive trend has continued.”

In more detail, the balance of trade in goods has clearly increased, influenced by the favourable effect of foreign markets (increasing by 2.6 billion euros in 2015, after showing a deficit of 4.6 billion euros in 2014). In 2015, Belgium exported 360 billion euros of goods worldwide (an increase of 1% on 2014).

Moreover, the government budget balance slightly improved in 2015, compared to 2014, with the actual deficit reaching -2.5% of GDP.

Moreover, for the first time since the 2008 crash, the National Debt slightly decreased in 2015 reaching 105.8 % of GDP.

Unit labour costs decreased for the second year running; by -0.2 % in 2014 and by -0.5% in 2015, “which has contributed to reducing the gap with our main commercial partners under the combined influence of quasi-stagnation of labour costs and an increase in productivity per person employed,” the FPS Economy went on.

Besides, despite a decline since 2014, Belgium is classed among “strong innovators”, the results of which have become superior to the European Union average.

The FPS Economy further pointed out, “Belgium's strong points lie in its excellent research system measured by the number of scientific publications and also within inter-business collaboration and innovation within SMEs.”

It elaborates, “On the other hand, Belgium did under-perform in the sphere of state investment in Research and Development (R&D) recording a high decrease in venture capital investment (a decrease of 11% year-on-year). Likewise, its patent registration appeared to show a relative decrease.”

The rate of employment (67.2% in 2015), has actually remained stable since 2011. Over the period from 2008-2015, Belgium, however recorded the lowest level of unemployment compared both to that of its main partners and indeed that of the European average.

Lastly, as regards sustainable development, Belgium and its main commercial partners saw their greenhouse gas emissions reduce in 2015 compared to the previous year.

Indeed over a longer period (that is 2008-2015), our country has recorded the largest implosion of greenhouse gases of all of the European countries (-18%) followed by France (-8%), the Netherlands (-6%) and Germany (-3%).

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