Belgium: GDP records fastest growth since Q2 2022 in Q1
GDP growth gained steam to 0.5% on a seasonally adjusted quarter-on-quarter basis in the first quarter, from 0.1% in the fourth quarter of last year. Q1’s upturn marked the best result since Q2 2022 and was driven by an increase in investment and resilient private consumption.
Fixed investment growth sped up to 2.0% in Q1, from the 0.3% expansion in the previous quarter. Conversely, private consumption growth inched down to 0.6% in Q1 (Q4 2022: +0.9% s.a. qoq), marking the weakest expansion in a year. Government consumption, meanwhile, deteriorated, contracting 0.7% in Q1 (Q4 2022: +0.5% s.a. qoq).
On the external side, exports of goods and services plunged at the steepest rate since Q2 2020, falling 1.0% in the first quarter (Q4 2022: -0.6% s.a. qoq). Similarly, imports of goods and services dropped at a more pronounced rate of 1.0% in Q1 (Q4 2022: -0.5% s.a. qoq), marking the worst performance in nearly three years.
On an annual basis, economic growth moderated to 1.4% in Q1, compared to the previous quarter’s 1.5% growth. Q1’s reading marked the softest growth in two years.
Looking ahead, economic growth is expected to be subdued in 2023 compared to 2022. Still-high inflation and a faltering industrial sector should drag on growth. Nevertheless, from H2 onwards, lower price pressures—notably in the gas-dependent industrial sector—a resilient labor market and strong increases in nominal wages are likely to spur both private consumption and investment.