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Announcement:

Moody's: Belgium's credit profile balances diversified economy and prudent fiscal policy against medium-term challenges

 The document has been translated in other languages

26 Nov 2018

Frankfurt am Main, November 26, 2018 -- Belgium's (Aa3 stable) credit profile reflects the country's diversified and wealthy economy that benefits from its geographical and institutional position, as well as the authorities' record in executing a prudent and adaptable fiscal policy, Moody's Investors Service said in a report today.

The report, "Government of Belgium -- Aa3 stable, Annual credit analysis", is available on www.moodys.com. Moody's subscribers can access the report using the link at the end of this press release. The research is an update to the markets and does not constitute a rating action.

"Belgium's growth model faces medium-term challenges to maintain its competitiveness and to increase labour participation," said Olivier Chemla, a Moody's Vice President -- Senior Analyst and co-author of the report. "Structural reforms have focused on addressing long-standing competitiveness and labour market issues. The 2015 pension reform is key to ensuring long-term sustainability."

Moody's has revised down its real GDP growth forecasts slightly, to a rate of 1.5% for both 2018 and 2019, a fall of 0.3 percentage points and 0.2pp respectively. Slowing global trade and Moody's expectation of moderating growth in the euro area present key challenges, as its highly open economy makes it vulnerable to slowing external demand.

Belgium is also one of the potentially most vulnerable EU member-states to Brexit given its large exposure through the trade channel: 7.3% of Belgian goods exports are directed to the UK, representing 4.5% of GDP -- one of the largest shares as a proportion of national output among EU countries.

Belgium's very high institutional strength is reflected in its high scores compared to peers on the Worldwide Governance Indicators. Belgium has also been able to pass a comprehensive reform programme in recent years at both the federal and regional levels, covering competitiveness and labour market issues as well as a pension reform.

Moody's forecasts a continued decline in the public debt burden, falling to around 99% of GDP by 2020 in the baseline scenario due to relatively high nominal economic growth and sustained primary surpluses. Belgium's relative fiscal flexibility mainly arises from the expenditure side, as future revenue growth is constrained due to an already-high level of receipts from taxes and social contributions.

Belgium has a low susceptibility to event risk, driven by banking sector risk and political event risk. Recent stress tests conducted by the European Banking Authority have confirmed the resilience of Belgian banks.

Upward rating pressure could develop if some of the key structural challenges were to be decisively addressed. A faster-than-expected reduction of government debt, through materially stronger economic growth or more decisive deficit reduction, would be positive.

Improvements in the labour market—particularly higher activity and employment rates--and tax reform would also be positive, given the impact that they could have on Belgium's growth potential.

Downward rating pressure might develop if the government's debt trend were to diverge significantly from Moody's expectation that it will continue to decline at a gradual pace following its 2014 peak.

A sustained deterioration in the government's fiscal position or, over the medium-term, a failure to reduce indebtedness would be credit negative. That would be a particular concern if the country's structural weaknesses, such as low labour force participation and fiscal rigidities, aren't addressed.

Subscribers can access this report via this link:

http://www.moodys.com/researchdocumentcontentpage.aspx?docid=PBC_1145940.

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS ONLY: For more information, please call one of our global press information hotlines: New York +1-212-553-0376, London +44-20-7772-5456, Tokyo +813-5408-4110, Hong Kong +852-3758-1350, Sydney +61-2-9270-8141, Mexico City 001-888-779-5833, São Paulo 0800-891-2518, or Buenos Aires 0800-666-3506. You can also email us at mediarelations@moodys.com or visit our web site at www.moodys.com.

This publication does not announce a credit rating action. For any credit ratings referenced in this publication, please see the ratings tab on the issuer/entity page on www.moodys.com for the most updated credit rating action information and rating history.

Olivier Chemla
Vice President - Senior Analyst
Sovereign Risk Group
Moody's Deutschland GmbH
An der Welle 5
Frankfurt am Main 60322
Germany
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
Client Service: 44 20 7772 5454

Yves Lemay
MD - Sovereign Risk
Sovereign Risk Group
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
Client Service: 44 20 7772 5454

Releasing Office:
Moody's Deutschland GmbH
An der Welle 5
Frankfurt am Main 60322
Germany
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
Client Service: 44 20 7772 5454

No Related Data.
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