Belgium GDP Q3 2018


Belgium: Growth stable in Q3

November 30, 2018

Comprehensive data released by the National Bank of Belgium (NBB) on 30 November revealed that third-quarter growth came in at 0.3% in quarter-on-quarter terms and on a seasonally-adjusted basis, down a notch from the preliminary estimate but in line with the pace logged in the second quarter. On an annual basis, growth ticked up to 1.6% (Q2: +1.4% year-on-year). Notably, strong external-sector gains in the quarter offset flat domestic demand.

Private consumption contracted 0.2% quarter-on-quarter, contrasting the second quarter’s revised 0.3% expansion (previously reported: +0.1% quarter-on-quarter s.a.). Higher inflation coupled with rising unemployment are likely to have weighed on spending. Meanwhile, fixed investment experienced no growth, down from a revised 0.1% increase in the second quarter (previously reported: +0.9% qoq s.a.). The flat reading depicted a fall in business investment just offset by a rise in public and residential investment. Lastly, government consumption moderated from a quarter earlier (Q3: +0.2% qoq s.a., Q2: +0.4% qoq s.a.).

On the external front, export growth inched down to 0.8% quarter-on-quarter, down from a revised 0.9% expansion (previously reported: +0.7% qoq s.a.). Meanwhile, import growth waned to 0.2% after climbing 0.5% in the previous quarter (previously reported: +0.4% qoq s.a.). Consequently, the external sector contributed 0.5 percentage points to the headline reading, up from a revised 0.4-percentage-point contribution in the second quarter (previously reported: 0.3 percentage points).

Growth is expected to remain broadly stable this year and next, underpinned by solid household-spending gains on the back upbeat real wage growth. However, external-sector risks linger over Belgium’s highly-open economy, especially against the current Brexit-tinted backdrop. FocusEconomics Consensus Forecast analysts expect growth of 1.5% in 2019, which is down 0.1 percentage points from last month’s forecast. For 2020, analysts also see growth at 1.5%.


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Belgium GDP Chart

Belgium GDP Q3  2018

Note: Quarter-on-quarter changes of seasonally-adjusted GDP in %.
Source: National Bank of Belgium (NBB) and FocusEconomics Consensus Forecast.

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