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Netherlands vs. Belgium

Economy

NetherlandsBelgium
Economy - overviewThe Netherlands, the sixth-largest economy in the European Union, plays an important role as a European transportation hub, with a persistently high trade surplus, stable industrial relations, and low unemployment. Industry focuses on food processing, chemicals, petroleum refining, and electrical machinery. A highly mechanized agricultural sector employs only 2% of the labor force but provides large surpluses for food-processing and underpins the country’s status as the world’s second largest agricultural exporter.

The Netherlands is part of the euro zone, and as such, its monetary policy is controlled by the European Central Bank. The Dutch financial sector is highly concentrated, with four commercial banks possessing over 80% of banking assets, and is four times the size of Dutch GDP.

In 2008, during the financial crisis, the government budget deficit hit 5.3% of GDP. Following a protracted recession from 2009 to 2013, during which unemployment doubled to 7.4% and household consumption contracted for four consecutive years, economic growth began inching forward in 2014. Since 2010, Prime Minister Mark RUTTE’s government has implemented significant austerity measures to improve public finances and has instituted broad structural reforms in key policy areas, including the labor market, the housing sector, the energy market, and the pension system. In 2016, the government budget returned to a surplus of 0.3% of GDP, with economic growth of 2.1%, and GDP per capita finally surpassed pre-crisis levels. The Netherlands achieved growth of 3.1% in 2017, with unemployment decreasing to 5.1%.
Belgium’s central geographic location and highly developed transport network have helped develop a well-diversified economy, with a broad mix of transport, services, manufacturing, and high tech. Industry is concentrated mainly in the more heavily-populated region of Flanders in the north. Belgium is 100% reliant on foreign sources of fossil fuels, and the planned closure of its seven nuclear plants by 2025 should increase its dependence on foreign energy. Its role as a regional logistical hub makes its economy vulnerable to shifts in foreign demand, particularly with EU trading partners. Roughly three-quarters of Belgium's trade is with other EU countries.

Belgium’s GDP grew by 1.6% in 2017, unemployment stood at 7.5%, and the budget deficit was 2.1% of GDP. The economy largely recovered from the March 2016 terrorist attacks, which mainly impacted the Brussels region tourist and hospitality industry. Prime Minister Charles MICHEL's center-right government has pledged to further reduce the deficit in response to EU pressure to decrease Belgium's high public debt of about 104% of GDP, but such efforts could also dampen economic growth. In addition to restrained public spending, low wage growth and higher inflation promise to curtail a more robust recovery in private consumption.

The government has pledged to pursue a reform program to improve Belgium’s competitiveness, including changes to tax policy, labor market rules, and welfare benefits. These changes have generally made Belgian wages more competitive regionally, but risk worsening tensions with trade unions and triggering extended strikes.
GDP (purchasing power parity)$915.2 billion (2017 est.)
$888 billion (2016 est.)
$868.8 billion (2015 est.)
note: data are in 2017 dollars
$526.4 billion (2017 est.)
$517.9 billion (2016 est.)
$511.8 billion (2015 est.)
note: data are in 2017 dollars
GDP - real growth rate3.1% (2017 est.)
2.2% (2016 est.)
2.3% (2015 est.)
1.6% (2017 est.)
1.2% (2016 est.)
1.5% (2015 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP)$53,600 (2017 est.)
$52,100 (2016 est.)
$51,300 (2015 est.)
note: data are in 2017 dollars
$46,300 (2017 est.)
$45,800 (2016 est.)
$45,500 (2015 est.)
note: data are in 2017 dollars
GDP - composition by sectoragriculture: 1.6%
industry: 17.9%
services: 70.2% (2017 est.)
agriculture: 0.7%
industry: 21.8%
services: 77.5% (2017 est.)
Population below poverty line8.8% (2015 est.)
15.1% (2013 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage sharelowest 10%: 2.3%
highest 10%: 24.9% (2014 est.)
lowest 10%: 3.4%
highest 10%: 28.4% (2006)
Inflation rate (consumer prices)1.3% (2017 est.)
0.1% (2016 est.)
2.2% (2017 est.)
1.8% (2016 est.)
Labor force7.969 million (2017 est.)
5.324 million (2017 est.)
Labor force - by occupationagriculture: 1.2%
industry: 17.2%
services: 81.6% (2015 est.)
agriculture: 1.3%
industry: 18.6%
services: 80.1% (2013 est.)
Unemployment rate5.1% (2017 est.)
5.9% (2016 est.)
7.5% (2017 est.)
7.9% (2016 est.)
Distribution of family income - Gini index30.3 (2015 est.)
25.1 (2013 est.)
25.9 (2013 est.)
28.7 (1996)
Budgetrevenues: $344.8 billion
expenditures: $340.2 billion (2017 est.)
revenues: $249.7 billion
expenditures: $260 billion (2017 est.)
Industriesagroindustries, metal and engineering products, electrical machinery and equipment, chemicals, petroleum, construction, microelectronics, fishing
engineering and metal products, motor vehicle assembly, transportation equipment, scientific instruments, processed food and beverages, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, base metals, textiles, glass, petroleum
Industrial production growth rate2.5% (2017 est.)
1.5% (2017 est.)
Agriculture - productsvegetables, ornamentals, dairy, poultry and livestock products; propagation materials
sugar beets, fresh vegetables, fruits, grain, tobacco; beef, veal, pork, milk
Exports$526.4 billion (2017 est.)
$495.4 billion (2016 est.)
$309.1 billion (2017 est.)
$277.7 billion (2016 est.)
Exports - commoditiesmachinery and transport equipment, chemicals, mineral fuels; food and livestock, manufactured goods
chemicals, machinery and equipment, finished diamonds, metals and metal products, foodstuffs
Exports - partnersGermany 24.1%, Belgium 10.7%, UK 9.4%, France 8.8%, Italy 4.2% (2016)
Germany 16.7%, France 15.4%, Netherlands 11.2%, UK 8.9%, US 5.8%, Italy 5.2% (2016)
Imports$435.4 billion (2017 est.)
$402.9 billion (2016 est.)
$306.1 billion (2017 est.)
$271.2 billion (2016 est.)
Imports - commoditiesmachinery and transport equipment, chemicals, fuels, foodstuffs, clothing
raw materials, machinery and equipment, chemicals, raw diamonds, pharmaceuticals, foodstuffs, transportation equipment, oil products
Imports - partnersGermany 15.3%, China 14.1%, Belgium 8.4%, US 7.9%, UK 5.3%, Russia 4.1% (2016)
Netherlands 16.1%, Germany 13.6%, France 9.5%, US 8.1%, UK 4.8%, Ireland 4.5%, China 4.3% (2016)
Debt - external$4.063 trillion (31 December 2016 est.)
$4.054 trillion (31 December 2015 est.)
$1.281 trillion (31 March 2016 est.)
$1.214 trillion (31 March 2015 est.)
Exchange rateseuros (EUR) per US dollar -
0.906 (2017 est.)
0.9214 (2016 est.)
0.9214 (2015 est.)
0.885 (2014 est.)
0.7634 (2013 est.)
euros (EUR) per US dollar -
0.906 (2017 est.)
0.9214 (2016 est.)
0.9214 (2015 est.)
0.885 (2014 est.)
0.7634 (2013 est.)
Fiscal yearcalendar year
calendar year
Public debt59% of GDP (2017 est.)
61.8% of GDP (2016 est.)
note: data cover general government debt, and includes debt instruments issued (or owned) by government entities other than the treasury; the data include treasury debt held by foreign entities; the data include debt issued by subnational entities, as well as intra-governmental debt; intra-governmental debt consists of treasury borrowings from surpluses in the social funds, such as for retirement, medical care, and unemployment, debt instruments for the social funds are not sold at public auctions
104.3% of GDP (2017 est.)
106% of GDP (2016 est.)
note: data cover general government debt, and includes debt instruments issued (or owned) by government entities other than the treasury; the data include treasury debt held by foreign entities; the data include debt issued by subnational entities, as well as intra-governmental debt; intra-governmental debt consists of treasury borrowings from surpluses in the social funds, such as for retirement, medical care, and unemployment; debt instruments for the social funds are not sold at public auctions; general government debt is defined by the Maastricht definition and calculated by the National Bank of Belgium as consolidated gross debt; the debt is defined in European Regulation EC479/2009 concerning the implementation of the protocol on the excessive deficit procedure annexed to the Treaty on European Union (Treaty of Maastricht) of 7 February 1992; the sub-sectors of consolidated gross debt are: federal government, communities and regions, local government, and social security funds
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold$36.13 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$38.21 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
$23.57 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$24.1 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Current Account Balance$82.44 billion (2017 est.)
$65.71 billion (2016 est.)
-$1.47 billion (2017 est.)
-$1.849 billion (2016 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate)$824.5 billion (2016 est.)
$491.7 billion (2016 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home$4.888 trillion (31 December 2017 est.)
$4.759 trillion (31 December 2016 est.)
$1.093 trillion (31 December 2017 est.)
$1.054 trillion (31 December 2016 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad$5.809 trillion (31 December 2017 est.)
$5.623 trillion (31 December 2016 est.)
$1.035 trillion (31 December 2017 est.)
$1.016 trillion (31 December 2016 est.)
Market value of publicly traded shares$652.7 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
$735.1 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
$675 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
$414.6 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
$378.5 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
$374.3 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
Central bank discount rate0% (31 December 2016)
0.05% (31 December 2015)
note: this is the European Central Bank's rate on the marginal lending facility, which offers overnight credit to banks in the euro area
0.25% (31 December 2016)
0.3% (31 December 2010)
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 rate1.5% (31 December 2017 est.)
1.47% (31 December 2016 est.)
2% (31 December 2017 est.)
2.01% (31 December 2016 est.)
Stock of domestic credit$1.636 trillion (31 December 2017 est.)
$1.507 trillion (31 December 2016 est.)
$783.2 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$684.8 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
Stock of narrow money$452.7 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$411.9 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
note: see entry for the European Union for money supply for the entire euro area; the European Central Bank (ECB) controls monetary policy for the 18 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
$238 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$198 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
note: see entry for the European Union for money supply for the entire euro area; the European Central Bank (ECB) controls monetary policy for the 18 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$907.8 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$827.6 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$601.3 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$525.8 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
Taxes and other revenues41.8% of GDP (2017 est.)
50.8% of GDP (2017 est.)
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)0.6% of GDP (2017 est.)
-2.1% of GDP (2017 est.)
Unemployment, youth ages 15-24total: 11.3%
male: 11.3%
female: 11.2% (2015 est.)
total: 22.1%
male: 23.8%
female: 20% (2015 est.)
GDP - composition, by end usehousehold consumption: 44.4%
government consumption: 24.7%
investment in fixed capital: 20.5%
investment in inventories: 0.1%
exports of goods and services: 85.3%
imports of goods and services: -75% (2017 est.)
household consumption: 50.8%
government consumption: 23.3%
investment in fixed capital: 23%
investment in inventories: 0.5%
exports of goods and services: 87.7%
imports of goods and services: -85.3% (2017 est.)
Gross national saving30.6% of GDP (2017 est.)
28.5% of GDP (2016 est.)
28.5% of GDP (2015 est.)
23.2% of GDP (2017 est.)
22.3% of GDP (2016 est.)
23.6% of GDP (2015 est.)

Source: CIA Factbook