Belgium's economic growth slowed to 1.5 per cent in 2023
The Belgian economy grew by 1.5 per cent in 2023, according to a National Bank flash estimate published on Monday. This is half the growth rate of 2022. In the fourth quarter of last year, gross domestic product grew by 0.4 per cent, the same rate as in the third quarter.
Although significantly lower than in 2022, growth is still slightly higher than analysts had expected. In November, the National Bank expected growth to slow to 0.3 per cent in the fourth quarter.
Construction (up 1.9 per cent) and services (2.6 per cent) were the main drivers of economic growth in 2023, while industrial activity fell by 3.1 per cent.
Despite the slowdown, Belgium appears to be doing better than the European Union as a whole. In its latest economic forecast, published in mid-November, the European Commission revised its GDP growth expectations for 2023 down to 0.6 per cent for both the EU and the euro area.
The biggest concern for Belgium remains its budget deficit. According to the European Commission's latest projections in November, the deficit would rise to 4.9 per cent of GDP in 2023 and 5 per cent in 2024. This makes Belgium the eurozone's second-worst budget deficit performer after Slovakia.
A hot strip mill at the ArcelorMittal plant in Ghent © BELGA PHOTO JASPER JACOBS