Belgium: GDP accelerates at fastest pace in three years
June 4, 2014
In the first quarter, GDP increased a seasonally-adjusted 0.4% over the previous quarter according to more complete data released by the National Bank of Belgium (NBB) on 4 June. The reading matched the increase reported in the flash estimate and marked an improvement compared to the 0.3% expansion registered in the fourth quarter. The reading represented the fastest pace of growth since Q1 2011. In year-on-year terms, GDP increased 1.2% in Q1, which was faster than the 0.8% expansion registered in Q4.
Q1’s improvement reflected stronger growth in domestic demand. Private consumption picked up slightly in the first quarter, growing 0.4% (Q4: +0.3% quarter-on-quarter). Government spending increased 0.1% in Q1, up from the flat reading tallied in Q4. In addition, gross fixed investment expanded a robust 1.9% in Q1, which was more than double the 0.8% growth rate tallied in Q4.
On the external side of the economy, exports of goods and services contracted 1.5% in Q1, which followed the 0.3% decrease registered in Q4. Imports fell 1.3% in the first quarter, which came in below the 0.4% contraction tallied in the fourth quarter. Consequently, the net contribution from the external sector swung from a 0.1 percentage-point contribution in Q4 to 0.2 percentage-point detraction in Q1.
Author: Ricardo Aceves, Senior Economist