Belgium: Economic growth slows in Q1
May 31, 2016
In the first quarter of 2016, GDP increased a seasonally-adjusted 0.2% over the previous quarter, according to more complete data released by the National Bank of Belgium (NBB) on 31 May. Q1’s reading matched the print reported in the NBB’s 29 April preliminary estimate and represents a deceleration from the 0.5% expansion tallied in Q4. Compared to the same quarter of the previous year, GDP growth tallied 1.5% in Q1, which matched Q4’s result and was a notch above the preliminary estimate.
Q1’s reading mainly reflects that a deterioration in domestic demand, while the external sector’s performance improved slightly. Private consumption growth slowed from 0.4% in Q4 to 0.1% in Q1. In addition, fixed investment decelerated from a 2.8% expansion in Q4 to a 1.1% increase in Q1. On the other hand, government consumption was steady at Q4’s 0.2% expansion.
On the external side, exports of goods and services slowed from a 1.7% rise in Q4 to a 0.7% increase in Q1, the worst result since Q1 2013. Meanwhile, imports also decelerated, expanding 0.8% (Q4: +2.0% quarter-on-quarter). As a result, the net contribution from the external sector to overall economic growth improved from minus 0.2 percentage points in the fourth quarter to minus 0.1 percentage points in the first quarter.