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IMF says Belgium already in recession

29 january 2012, 11:00
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International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Christine Lagarde. ©AFP
International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Christine Lagarde. ©AFP
The International Monetary Fund said Friday that Belgium was already in recession and that it needed both its own government and Europe's institutions to take action to help, AFP reports.

"With fiscal tightening across Europe, the economic outlook is challenging," the IMF said in a new report on the country's economy.

"A recession in Belgium is already underway and real GDP is expected to stagnate in 2012, followed by a slow recovery in 2013."

It said Belgium's economy was "highly vulnerable" to further eurozone turmoil, in part due to its high public debt and the international exposure of its financial sector.

"Downside risks to the outlook are significant," the IMF said, though it credited high household savings as a buffer against market shocks starting elsewhere.

While the government is "off to a good start" in trying to close its fiscal gap, the IMF said, "continued persistence in its full implementation is crucial."

"An effective and comprehensive policy response both at the European and the national level is called for."

Belgium's credit rating was downgraded by Fitch on Friday, to "AA" from "AA+", citing its greater vulnerability to monetary as well as financing shocks.

Four other eurozone countries were also downgraded by Fitch: Italy, Spain, Cyprus and Slovenia.

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