HEADLINES BELGIAN ECONOMY - MAY 2006
The medium-term outlook for Belgium points towards an average GDP growth rate of 2.2% during the 2006-2011 period, which is slightly higher than potential (2.0%). This pace of growth should follow a slowdown in economic growth in 2005 (1.5%) and a rebound in 2006 (2.4%). Economic growth in Belgium should remain slightly higher than in the euro area, on average.
Despite moderate wage increases, the average yearly growth rate for private consumption should reach 1.8% during the 2006-2011 period, in particular because of the increase in household disposable income (stimulated especially by reductions in personal income tax and increases in employment and social benefits). Investment growth should reach 2.5% during the 2006-2011 period, mainly reflecting the path of business investment growth, but also an acceleration in public investment at the end of the projection period. Growth in exports should be 5.4% on average and the contribution of net exports to GDP growth is expected to be 0.3%-points. The external surplus, which was strongly reduced between 2002 and 2005, should increase again after 2007 and attain 3.2% of GDP in 2011 (partly as a result of the improvement of the terms of trade). Limited increases in wage costs, the decline in oil prices after 2007 and a negative output gap until the end of the projection period, should allow the inflation rate to remain below 2% in the medium term.
The expected evolution of employment reflects a favourable macroeconomic context, a limited increase in wage costs and various policy measures. After the net creation of approximately 39,000 and 41,000 jobs in 2005 and 2006 respectively, about 35,000 jobs should be created every year during the 2007-2011 period. Between 2005 and 2011, industrial employment should fall by 30,000 persons, but the number of jobs created in market services should exceed 250,000. Nevertheless, in view of the strong increase in the labour force (mainly in the 50-64 age class) the fall in unemployment will be limited to 38,000 persons. The unemployment rate (broad administrative statistics) should fall from 14.3% in 2005 to 13.1% in 2011.
Under the assumption of constant policy, public accounts are expected to deteriorate markedly, with a net public financing requirement of 0.3% of GDP appearing in 2006, widening to 1.2% in 2007, before gradually falling to 0.3% by the end of the projection period. Nevertheless, the total public debt to GDP ratio is still expected to decline from 93.9% in 2005 to 78.0% in 2011.
Within the Belgian National Accounts Institute, the Federal Planning Bureau (FPB) has been assigned responsibility for the environmental satellite accounts. One of these accounts is the National Accounting Matrix including Environmental Accounts for Air pollution (NAMEA Air). The NAMEA Air for Belgium currently contains data on greenhouse gas emissions, acidifying emissions, photochemical emissions, emissions of fine dust particles and emissions of lead for 1990 and for the period 1994-2002. The air pollutant that has received the most attention over the last decade is, without any doubt, carbon dioxide, the emissions of which are closely linked to energy use. This special topic investigates the driving forces behind the changes in CO 2 emissions by the Belgian industries by means of decomposition analysis. Emissions by households are thus not considered. The industries were responsible for the largest part of Belgian CO2 emissions, more specifically 76%, in 2002. In that year, CO 2 emissions represented 87% of total greenhouse gas emissions covered by the Kyoto protocol.
Decomposition analysis allows a distinction to be made between the impact on CO 2 emissions of volume changes and the impact of efficiency changes. These efficiency changes can be linked to either energy efficiency or the emission intensity of the energy mix. Concurrently, the impact of changes in the structure of the economy can be taken into account. The first part of the text briefly explains the methodological issues. Following parts present the decomposition results for CO 2 emissions by the Belgian industries between 1990 and 2002. [More in the publication ...]