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Belgium Economy

    Economy—overview: This highly developed private enterprise economy has capitalized on its central geographic location, highly developed transport network, and diversified industrial and commercial base. Industry is concentrated mainly in the populous Flemish area in the north, although the government is encouraging reinvestment in the southern region of Wallonia. With few natural resources, Belgium must import substantial quantities of raw materials and export a large volume of manufactures, making its economy unusually dependent on the state of world markets. Two-thirds of its trade is with other EU countries. Belgium's public debt fell from 127% of GDP in 1996 to 122% of GDP in 1998 and the government is trying to control its expenditures to bring the figure more into line with other industrialized countries. Belgium became a charter member of the European Monetary Union (EMU) in January 1999.

    GDP: purchasing power parity—$236 billion (1998 est.)

    GDP—real growth rate: 2.8% (1998 est.)

    GDP—per capita: purchasing power parity—$23,400 (1998 est.)

    GDP—composition by sector:
    agriculture: 1.9%
    industry: 27.2%
    services: 70.9% (1996)

    Population below poverty line: NA%

    Household income or consumption by percentage share:
    lowest 10%: 3.7%
    highest 10%: 20.2% (1992)

    Inflation rate (consumer prices): 1% (1998 est.)

    Labor force: 4.283 million (1997)

    Labor force—by occupation: services 69.7%, industry 27.7%, agriculture 2.6% (1992)

    Unemployment rate: 12% (1998 est.)

    Budget:
    revenues: $NA
    expenditures: $NA, including capital expenditures of $NA

    Industries: engineering and metal products, motor vehicle assembly, processed food and beverages, chemicals, basic metals, textiles, glass, petroleum, coal

    Industrial production growth rate: 9.7% (1995)

    Electricity—production: 71.066 billion kWh (1996)

    Electricity—production by source:
    fossil fuel: 41.73%
    hydro: 0.33%
    nuclear: 57.93%
    other: 0.01% (1996)

    Electricity—consumption: 75.266 billion kWh (1996)

    Electricity—exports: 5.4 billion kWh (1996)

    Electricity—imports: 9.6 billion kWh (1996)

    Agriculture—products: sugar beets, fresh vegetables, fruits, grain, tobacco; beef, veal, pork, milk

    Exports: $145.1 billion (f.o.b., 1998)

    Exports—commodities: iron and steel, transportation equipment, tractors, diamonds, petroleum products

    Exports—partners: EU 67.2% (Germany 19%), US 5.8% (1994)

    Imports: $137.1 billion (f.o.b., 1998)

    Imports—commodities: fuels, grains, chemicals, foodstuffs

    Imports—partners: EU 75% (Germany 22.1%), US 5% (1997)

    Debt—external: $22.3 billion (1998 est.)

    Economic aid—donor: ODA, $1 billion (1995)

    Currency: 1 Belgian franc (BF) = 100 centimes

    Exchange rates: Belgian francs (BF) per US$1—34.77 (January 1999), 36.229 (1998), 35.774 (1997), 30.962 (1996), 29.480 (1995), 33.456 (1994)
    note: on 1 January 1999, the European Union introduced a common currency that is now being used by financial institutions in some member countries at the rate of 0.8597 euros per US$ and a fixed rate of 40.3399 Belgian francs per euro; the euro will replace the local currency in consenting countries for all transactions in 2002

    Fiscal year: calendar year

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Revised 1-Mar-99
Copyright © 1999 Photius Coutsoukis (all rights reserved)