The medium-term outlook for Belgium points towards an average GDP growth rate of 2% for the period 2008-2013. A slowdown is expected for the Belgian economy in 2008 and 2009 (GDP growth of only 1.7%), mainly as a consequence of less dynamic exports and a moderate increase in domestic demand. Belgian GDP growth should accelerate in 2010, thanks to the more favourable international environment and a more dynamic development of domestic demand. From 2011 onwards, Belgian GDP growth should stabilise slightly above its potential (equal to 2% on average). Note that the global economic situation is beset with many uncertainties and, therefore, the outlook is surrounded with considerable risks, especially for the short term.
The average yearly growth rate for private consumption should reach 1.7% for the period 2008-2013, which is slightly lower than the increase in households’ real disposable income. Purchasing power will be handicapped in 2008 by the high inflation rate (3.8%), but should be underpinned afterwards by employment growth and by higher increases in wage rates and social benefits. Investment growth should reach 2.8% for the period 2008-2013, reflecting the path of business investment growth (supported by business profitability and stable demand prospects after 2009). Growth in exports should reach 5% on average and the contribution of net exports to GDP growth is expected to be 0.1%-points. After an acceleration in 2008, the inflation rate should stabilise slightly below 2% for the period 2009-2013. This rather low inflation rate is mainly due to a moderate increase in imported costs and the persistence of a negative output gap until 2013.
The expected evolution of employment reflects a relatively favourable macroeconomic environment and persistently modest labour productivity growth (1.2% per year). After a particularly high number of new jobs created in 2007 (70,000), employment growth should remain sustained: about 42,000 units should be created every year during the period 2008-2013. Between 2007 and 2013, manufacturing industrial employment should fall by 35,000 but the number of jobs created in market services should exceed 270,000. [...]