Belgian economy: recent developments
Gradual recovery of the Belgian economy
Even though the outbreak of the COVID-19 crisis resulted in a sharp drop at the beginning of 2020, the Belgian economy made an impressive rebound in the third quarter of 2020, with +10,7% GDP growth compared to the previous quarter. This made up for approximately 2/3 of the economic contraction in the first two quarters.
The National Bank expects our GDP to decrease by 6,7% in 2020. Quick government measures have ensured that the real disposable income of households showed resilience (-0,3%), which will be beneficial to the economic recovery after the COVID crisis. For the next years, the National Bank predicts GDP growth of 3,5% in 2021 and of 3,1% in 2022.
Exports as the motor of economic revival
Even though total Belgian exports during the first 8 months of 2020 were 11,7% lower than in 2019, other EU countries faced a similar decrease; Belgium remains the 5th biggest EU exporter of goods. The Belgian pharmaceutical sector saw an impressive increase in its numbers: +38,6% for exports (+5,6 billion euros). Exports of chemical products haven risen by 10%.
The heart of the Blue Banana
Our extensive infrastructure, central location and position in global value chains make our country the ideal logistical hub. Belgium contains the 2nd biggest port, 2nd most dense rail and waterways and 3rd most dense road network, and the 6th biggest cargo airport of Europe. The National Bank estimates that 7,6% of our GDP and 8% of all jobs are tied to the transport and logistics sector.
The Logistics Performance Index of the World Bank (2018) ranks our country 3rd place globally, thanks to our leading role in terms of timely and efficient international deliveries. This, combined with our strong pharmaceutical sector, our role as a European frontrunner in the area of R&D and our excellent reputation regarding clinical trials, make our country a crucial hub for offering a solution to the COVID-19 crisis.