Belgium - Overview
58% of the population is Flemish, 31% is Walloon, 11% Brussels.
To make a call from: 0
To make a call to: +32
Given that the state debt is going to exceed 100% of the GDP in 2014, debt reduction is the goverment's absolute priority. The coalition government is planning to save 22 billion euro and structural reforms are no doubt going to be necessary, in addition to the wage freeze and the reduction of employer's social contributions which have already been implemented. The government is also expected to adopt a reform of the labor market, especially in order to encourage the employment of persons aged 65+ (the retirement age) and measures to reduce the high cost of labour. The general election, which is planned for May, is likely to provoke community tensions. Belgium is a prosperous country with one of the highest GDP per capita rate in the world. Nevertheless, regional disparities remain strong; Wallonia faces a worrying problem of structural unemployment.
The country's rate of unemployment, estimated at 8.8% in 2013, should further increase and affects especially the young.
The industrial sector accounts for practically a fourth of the GDP. There are significant discrepancies between the three Belgian regions. While Flanders has succeeded in developing the second largest petro-chemical sector in the world, Wallonia is in the middle of restructuring, following the closure of several collieries and a large number of steel industries.
Brussels distinguishes itself in the areas of telecommunication, software development and in pharmaceutical and automobile industry.
Agriculture contributes a small amount to the Belgian economy.
Foreign trade overview
Belgium's trade deficit, which deepened in 2011-2012 under the effects of the crisis of the eurozone, improved in 2013 thanks to the resumption of exports and a slower global rise in imports. The trade balance should continue to improve in 2014.
Belgian international trade is primarily done within the European Union (nearly 80% of exports and imports). Its main trading partners are the Netherlands, Germany, France, Great Britain and the United States.
Among the attractions of Belgian economy are: its strategic geographical position, at the crossroads of the main European markets; its high-quality transport, logistics and telecommunications infrastructure; its businesses specialized in the supply of intermediate and semi-finished goods; its multilingual and qualified workforce and a strong purchasing power.