The new economic outlook for Belgium for the period 2012-2017 is based on a context of budget consolidation and weak economic growth for Europe. After a year 2012 marked by a mild recession, the euro area should gradually recover the path of growth. However, this growth would be modest and mixed according to country. The main risk factor for these growth forecasts lies in the sovereign debt crisis and the evolution of the financial sector in the euro area.
Despite this unfavourable context, the Belgium economy should avoid a recession in 2012 and register GDP growth equal to 1.4% in 2013. From 2014 onwards, Belgian economic growth should become more dynamic, without exceeding 2%. Export growth should amount to 3.7% on average on an annual basis over the period 2014-2017, which means that the loss of market share should persist (1.3 percentage points per year). Over the same period, domestic demand should have an annual growth rate of 1.6%, causing GDP to increase by 1.9% on average per year.
Belgian inflation should exceed largely 2% in 2012, owing to a new rise in energy prices, the depreciation of the euro against the dollar, and increases in indirect taxes, but should fall below 2% in 2013, notably thanks to lower oil prices. In the context of a moderate rise in international energy prices, Belgian inflation should stabilize at 1.8% on average during the period 2014-2017.
Total domestic employment should increase by 8 000 units this year and by 14 000 units next year. From 2014 onwards, total employment is expected to increase by 188 000 jobs over the period 2014-2017. The number of unemployed persons (broad administrative concept) should rise between 2012 and 2014 (+ 64 000 units). Over the following years, employment should grow more strongly, while the labour force continues to expand, partially due to the pension reform. As a result, the decrease in unemployment should remain limited to 33 000 units during the period 2015-2017. Finally, as measured by the Eurostat definition, which allows for international comparisons, the unemployment rate should amount to 7.3% in 2013, compared to 7. [...]