Belgium

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Economics

Economy - overview

This modern, open, and private-enterprise-based economy has capitalized on its central geographic location, highly developed transport network, and diversified industrial and commercial base. Industry is concentrated mainly in the more heavily-populated region of Flanders in the north. With few natural resources, Belgium imports substantial quantities of raw materials and exports a large volume of manufactures, making its economy vulnerable to volatility in world markets, yet also able to benefit from them. Roughly three-quarters of Belgium's trade is with other EU countries, and Belgium has benefited most from its proximity to Germany. In 2010 Belgian GDP grew by 2.1%, the unemployment rate rose slightly, and the government reduced the budget deficit, which had worsened in 2008 and 2009 because of large-scale bail-outs in the financial sector. Belgium's budget deficit decreased from 6% of GDP to 4.1% in 2010, while public debt was just under 100% of GDP. Belgian banks were severely affected by the international financial crisis with three major banks receiving capital injections from the government. An ageing population and rising social expenditures are mid- to long-term challenges to public finances.

GDP (purchasing power parity):

$394.3 billion (2010 est.)

country comparison to the world: 31

$386.7 billion (2009 est.)

$397.3 billion (2008 est.)

note: data are in 2010 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate):

$465.7 billion (2010 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:

2% (2010 est.)

country comparison to the world: 145

-2.7% (2009 est.)

0.8% (2008 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP):

$37,800 (2010 est.)

country comparison to the world: 26

$37,100 (2009 est.)

$38,200 (2008 est.)

note: data are in 2010 US dollars

GDP - composition by sector:

agriculture: 0.7%

industry: 21.9%

services: 77.4% (2010 est.)

Labor force:

5.114 million (2010 est.)

country comparison to the world: 72

Labor force - by occupation:

agriculture: 2%

industry: 25%

services: 73% (2007 est.)

Unemployment rate:

8.3% (2010 est.)

country comparison to the world: 96

7.9% (2009 est.)

Population below poverty line:

15.2% (2007 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share:

lowest 10%: 3.4%

highest 10%: 28.4% (2006)

Distribution of family income - Gini index:

28 (2005)

country comparison to the world: 126

28.7 (1996)

Investment (gross fixed):

20.3% of GDP (2010 est.)

country comparison to the world: 113

 

Budget:

revenues: $228.4 billion

expenditures: $248 billion (2010 est.)

Taxes and other revenues:

49% of GDP (2010 est.)

country comparison to the world: 18

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-):

-4.2% of GDP (2010 est.)

country comparison to the world: 126

Public debt:

100.7% of GDP (2010 est.)

country comparison to the world: 11

100.5% of GDP (2009 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):

2.3% (2010 est.)

country comparison to the world: 72

0% (2009 est.)

Central bank discount rate:

1.75% (31 December 2010)

country comparison to the world: 121

1.75% (31 December 2009)

note: this is the European Central Bank's rate on the marginal lending facility, which offers overnight credit to banks in the euro area

Commercial bank prime lending rate:

4.21% (31 December 2010 est.)

country comparison to the world: 167

4.576% (31 December 2009 est.)

Stock of narrow money:

$175.3 billion (31 December 2010 est.)

country comparison to the world: 18

$183.9 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

note: see entry for the European Union for money supply in the euro area; the European Central Bank (ECB) controls monetary policy for the 17 members of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU); individual members of the EMU do not control the quantity of money circulating within their own borders

Stock of broad money:

$548.3 billion (31 December 2010 est.)

country comparison to the world: 21

$552.2 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Stock of domestic credit:

$801.1 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

country comparison to the world: 17

$767.1 billion (31 December 2008 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares:

$269.3 billion (31 December 2010)

country comparison to the world: 25

$261.4 billion (31 December 2009)

$167.4 billion (31 December 2008)

Agriculture - products:

sugar beets, fresh vegetables, fruits, grain, tobacco; beef, veal, pork, milk

Industries:

engineering and metal products, motor vehicle assembly, transportation equipment, scientific instruments, processed food and beverages, chemicals, basic metals, textiles, glass, petroleum

Industrial production growth rate:

7.1% (2010 est.)

country comparison to the world: 55

Electricity – production:

84.2 billion kWh (2009 est.)

country comparison to the world: 35

Electricity - consumption:

84.78 billion kWh (2008 est.)

country comparison to the world: 33

Electricity - exports:

11.32 billion kWh (2009 est.)

Electricity - imports:

1.837 billion kWh (2009 est.)

Oil - production:

11,220 bbl/day (2010 est.)

country comparison to the world: 82

Oil - consumption:

622,600 bbl/day (2010 est.)

country comparison to the world: 28

Oil - exports:

353,000 bbl/day (2009 est.)

country comparison to the world: 39

Oil - imports:

1.007 million bbl/day (2009 est.)

country comparison to the world: 15

Oil - proved reserves:

0 bbl (1 January 2011 est.)

country comparison to the world: 107

Natural gas - production:

0 cu m (2010 est.)

country comparison to the world: 154

Natural gas - consumption:

19.53 billion cu m (2010 est.)

country comparison to the world: 36

Natural gas – exports:

0 cu m (2010 est.)

country comparison to the world: 58

Natural gas - imports:

19.32 billion cu m (2010 est.)

country comparison to the world: 14

Natural gas - proved reserves:

0 cu m (1 January 2011 est.)

country comparison to the world: 151

Current account balance:

$6 billion (2010 est.)

country comparison to the world: 33

$1.719 billion (2009 est.)

Exports:

$282.3 billion (2010 est.)

country comparison to the world: 16

$249.8 billion (2009 est.)

Exports - commodities:

machinery and equipment, chemicals, finished diamonds, metals and metal products, foodstuffs

Exports - partners:

Germany 19.1%, France 17%, Netherlands 12.2%, UK 7.2%, US 5.3%, Italy 4.7% (2010)

Imports:

$284.6 billion (2010 est.)

country comparison to the world: 17

$256.4 billion (2009 est.)

Imports - commodities:

raw materials, machinery and equipment, chemicals, raw diamonds, pharmaceuticals, foodstuffs, transportation equipment, oil products

Imports - partners:

Netherlands 19.1%, Germany 16.4%, France 11.3%, UK 5.4%, US 5.3%, Ireland 5.3%, China 4.1% (2010)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:

$26.81 billion (31 December 2010 est.)

country comparison to the world: 52

$23.98 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Debt - external:

$1.241 trillion (30 June 2010)

country comparison to the world: 13

$1.354 trillion (31 December 2008)

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home:

$910.8 billion (31 December 2010 est.)

country comparison to the world: 6

$848 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad:

$765.4 billion (31 December 2010 est.)

country comparison to the world: 9

$728.3 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Exchange rates:

euros (EUR) per US dollar -

0.755 (2010)

0.72 (2009)

0.6827 (2008)

0.7345 (2007)

0.7964 (2006)