The latest OECD Economic Survey of Belgium notes that robust job creation, albeit mostly in low-wage industries, has led to the unemployment rate falling to a historic low. Economic growth has been steady, but remains below average euro area levels, and productivity growth has stagnated. Future reforms should seek to lower employment barriers to disadvantaged groups, help innovative businesses to thrive, and further ease pressures on public finances.
Economic growth is projected to moderate to around 1% in 2020-21. External headwinds will weigh on exports and business investment, despite supportive financing conditions. Private consumption will be more resilient on the back of past tax cuts and wage growth that will increase household disposable income. The job market is set to remain tight, with the unemployment rate at 5.4% at the end of 2021.
Easing administrative burdens and simplifying entry regulation in professional services, retail and network industries and streamlining the insolvency regime would boost competition and productivity growth. Further reducing the tax wedge on labour, particularly for the low-skilled, would encourage employment.