Belgium: Revised GDP data confirm deterioration in Q4
March 6, 2013
In the fourth quarter, GDP contracted 0.1% over the previous quarter on a seasonally adjusted basis. The reading matched the preliminary estimate released by the National Bank of Belgium (NBB) on 30 January and marked a deterioration over the flat reading recorded in the third quarter. Compared to the same period the previous year, GDP declined 0.4% in Q4, which mirrored the contraction recorded in Q3.
The deterioration in the fourth quarter mainly reflected a contraction in fixed investment (Q3 2012: -0.3% quarter-on-quarter; Q4 2012: -1.0% qoq). Private consumption increased 0.2% over the previous quarter (Q3: +0.1% qoq), while government spending maintained the pace observed in the previous quarter (Q4: +0.1% qoq).
On the external front, exports of goods and services swung from a 0.2% increase in the third quarter to a 1.6% contraction in the fourth. Imports dropped also 1.6% in Q4, well below the flat reading observed in Q3. Consequently, the net contribution from the external sector to overall growth deteriorated from a 0.2 percentage-point contribution in Q3 to 0.0 percentage points in Q4.
In the full year 2012, the economy contracted 0.2% (2011: +1.8%). The National Bank of Belgium expects the economy to remain weak throughout this year and project GDP to record zero growth. FocusEconomics Consensus Forecast panellists are more optimistic than the Bank and expect GDP to grow 0.2% in 2013, which is down 0.1 percentage points over the previous month's Consensus. For 2014, the panel expects economic growth to accelerate to 1.3%.
Author: Ricardo Aceves, Senior Economist