Belgium: GDP grows at quickest rate in a year in the third quarter
GDP growth edged up to 2.0% on a calendar- and seasonally-adjusted quarter-on-quarter basis in the third quarter, following the 1.7% rise logged in the second quarter. Q3’s reading marked the best result since Q3 2020.
Household spending growth accelerated to 6.3% in calendar- and seasonally-adjusted quarter-on-quarter terms in Q3 from the 3.5% expansion recorded in Q2. Moreover, public spending picked up to a 3.8% increase in Q3 (Q2: +1.0% s.a. qoq). Less positively, fixed investment contracted 0.2% in the quarter, marking the worst result since Q2 2020 (Q2: +1.3% s.a. qoq).
On the external front, exports of goods and services contracted 1.1% in Q3, marking the worst reading since Q2 2020 (Q2: +5.3% s.a. qoq). In addition, imports of goods and services deteriorated, contracting 0.2% in the period (Q2: +5.9% s.a. qoq).
On an annual basis, economic growth slowed notably to 4.9% in Q3, following the previous quarter’s 15.1% expansion.
Going forward, a new wave of Covid-19 cases, likely brought on by the Omicron variant, led authorities to tighten restrictions on 3 December, which should be capping momentum at the tail end of Q4.
Commenting on the impact of this unfolding situation, Philippe Ledent, senior economist at ING, remarked:
“We already had pencilled in weaker growth this quarter and for the first quarter of 2022. The anti-Covid restrictions reinforce this scenario, implying a further downward revision of growth to 0.3% quarter-on-quarter in Q4 2021 and 0.4% Q1 2022. That said, we remain convinced the recovery is rather delayed than stifled by the current situation.”