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Real GDP growth is expected to be 3.8% this year - the highest growth rate since 1988 - and 3.2% next year. Exports and private consumption were very buoyant during the first half of 2000. However, both the private consumption cycle and the export cycle should have peaked by the middle of 2000 and should gradually move down towards their trend path in the second half of the current year. This should lead to a slowdown in GDP growth during the second half of 2000, although it will remain robust, at rates of about 3% yoy.
The overall economic environment should remain favourable next year. The growth of external demand should largely exceed the average seen during the last decade, despite a moderate slowdown in our main export markets. Belgian exporters should, as in 2000 and contrary to what has generally been observed in the last two decades, lose almost no market share, reflecting improved competitiveness due to the depreciation of the euro and subdued domestic costs. The 2001 Budget contains some personal tax cuts and supplementary social benefits which should support households’ disposable income, while the loss of purchasing power due to rising energy prices is not expected to be repeated. Households’ disposable income should also benefit from substantial growth in employment. The rise in employment seen since 1995 should indeed continue during the forecast period. This is supported by sustained growth in economic activity and government measures aimed at promoting employment. The expected increase in the participation rate should sustain the labour supply and help to limit pressures in the labour market.
The combined effect of persistently high oil prices and a weak euro resulted in an upward revision of inflation prospects for this and next year, which is now expected to be 2.5% in 2000 and 1.9% in 2001. It appears that import price increases have at last begun to be passed on to domestic consumer prices. It should be noted, however, that these “second round” effects are not, so far, spreading to wages.
Taking into account the 2001 Budget and the macro-economic outlook presented above, and disregarding the one-off revenues from the auctioning of UMTS licenses, the general government budget balance is expected to move from broad equilibrium in 2000 to a small surplus in 2001.
The underlying risks to our macro-economic forecasts are mainly linked to the international financial conditions that will prevail in the year 2001. Additionally, wage increases in Belgium exceeding wage developments in its main trading partners could harm Belgium’s competitive position.
The purpose of this special topic is to study the impact of three energy policy scenarios on the technological choices for producing electricity in Belgium. The scenarios have been simulated with PRIMES, a partial equilibrium energy model developed for the European Commission. The results are derived from a broader energy forecasting exercise presented in the FPB publication “Belgian energy outlook 2000-2020” (See Courcelle C. (2000), “Belgian energy outlook 2000-2020”, Planning Paper 88, Federal Planning Bureau, Forthcoming, (will be available in French and in Dutch))
The projections of electricity generation have to take into account three governmental initiatives, which sometimes have conflicting outcomes:
Macroeconomic forecasts and analyses > Short-term forecasts and business cycle