In 1990, government departments and state-owned industries employed more than one-fifth of the work force, one of the highest levels in Europe (Tigner, 1990, p. 57).
By 1992, the GDP growth rate had fallen to 1.5 percent, and the Belgian economy saw weaker performance after five years of rapid expansion. Private consumption lost some of its strength as well, despite an increase in personal income, as there was an increase in the transfer payments from the government and the postponement of large tax refunds from 1990 to 1991. While exports to Germany expanded during the early 1990s, exports to other European partners declined. Unemployment increased for the first time since 1984, and the deficit increased for the first time in several years as a percentage of GDP. Inflation declined to 2.8 percent due to lower energy prices. When energy and food prices were not included in inflation measures, inflation rose to 3.9 percent ("Belgium," 1992, p. 90).
The economic situation worsened considerably during 1993 with weakness in nearly all segments of domestic demand. GDP slowed to less than one percent growth and eventually posted a loss for the year; unemployment continued to rise, reaching 10.3 percent. The growth of import goods decreased in volume terms, but exports also stagnated, resulting in lost market shares which are difficult to recover. Inflation edged upward to 2.9 percent; when energy and food are not included in the measure, it remained steady at just under 4.0 percent ("Belgium," 1993," p. 95).
The Belgian economy recovered from its 1993 recession fairly quickly, posting strong performance in 1994 when GDP grew by 2.25 percent. The upturn was driven by a surge in exports, but plans put in place by the government were expected to prevent a deterioration in wage-price performance. Unemployment and the public debt remained significant concerns in 1994, however. Business fixed investment stopped its decline in 199...
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