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Belgium - Open Map
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Economy

Economy - overview: This modern 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 investment 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. About three-quarters 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. The dioxin crisis - beginning in June 1999 with the discovery of a cancer-causing substance in animal feed - constituted a serious blow to the food-processing industry, both domestically and internationally. This crisis slowed down GDP growth with recovery expected in the year 2000.

GDP: purchasing power parity - $243.4 billion (1999 est.)

GDP - real growth rate: 1.8% (1999 est.)

GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $23,900 (1999 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 1.4%
industry: 27%
services: 71.6% (1999 est.)

Population below poverty line: 4%

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

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 1% (1999 est.)

Labor force: 4.341 million (1999)

Labor force - by occupation: services 73%, industry 25%, agriculture 2% (1999 est.)

Unemployment rate: 9% (1999 est.)

Budget:
revenues: $116.5 billion
expenditures: $119 billion, including capital expenditures of $10.7 billion (1998 est.)

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

Industrial production growth rate: -1% (1999 est.)

Electricity - production: 78.702 billion kWh (1998)

Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 42.48%
hydro: 0.49%
nuclear: 55.72%
other: 1.31% (1998)

Electricity - consumption: 74.543 billion kWh (1998)

Electricity - exports: 6.4 billion kWh (1998)

Electricity - imports: 7.75 billion kWh (1998)

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

Exports: $187.3 billion (f.o.b., 1999)

Exports - commodities: machinery and equipment, chemicals, diamonds, metals and metal products

Exports - partners: EU 76% (Germany 19%, France 18%, Netherlands 12%, UK 10%) (1998)

Imports: $172.8 billion (f.o.b., 1999)

Imports - commodities: machinery and equipment, chemicals, metals and metal products

Imports - partners: EU 71% (Germany 18%, Netherlands 17%, France 14%, UK 9%) (1998)

Debt - external: $28.3 billion (1999 est.)

Economic aid - donor: ODA, $764 million (1997)

Currency: 1 Belgian franc (BF) = 100 centimes

Exchange rates: euros per US$1 - 0.9867 (January 2000), 0.9386 (1999); Belgian francs (BF) per US$1 - 34.77 (January 1999), 36.229 (1998), 35.774 (1997), 30.962 (1996), 29.480 (1995)
note: on 1 January 1999, the EU introduced a common currency that is now being used by financial institutions in some member countries at 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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