Belgium: Revised GDP data confirm flat growth in Q1
June 5, 2013
In the first quarter, GDP growth remained flat over the previous quarter in seasonally adjusted terms. The reading matched the preliminary estimate released by the National Bank of Belgium (NBB) on 3 May and came in above the 0.1% decline registered in the final quarter of 2012. Compared to the same period last year, GDP dropped 0.6% in Q1, which followed the 0.5% contraction registered in Q4.
The flat reading in the first quarter reflected sluggish growth in both domestic demand and the external sector. Private consumption increased 0.2% over the previous period (Q4 2012: -0.1% quarter-on-quarter), while government spending grew only 0.1% over the preceding quarter (Q4: +0.2% qoq). Meanwhile, gross fixed investment dropped 1.3% in Q1, below the 1.1% contraction observed in Q4 2012.
On the external front, exports of goods and services contracted 0.7% in the first quarter (Q4: -1.1% qoq), while imports dropped 0.8% in Q1 (Q4: -1.4% qoq). Consequently, the net contribution from the external sector to overall growth fell slightly from 0.2 percentage points in Q4 to 0.1 percentage points in Q1.
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 in line with the Bank and expect zero economic growth 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 1.1%.
Author: Ricardo Aceves, Senior Economist