BRUSSELS, Dec 15 (Reuters) - Belgium’s central bank slightly increased its growth forecasts on Friday for the country’s economy for this year and next, but said it expected expansion at a lower rate thereafter.
The central bank said it expected the Belgian economy to expand by 1.7 percent in 2017 and 2018, up from previous forecasts of 1.6 percent, more in line with estimates by other institutions such as the European Commission and the OECD.
After 2018, the central bank expects the country’s economic growth to slow down to 1.6 percent for 2019 and to 1.4 percent for 2020.
“This is because of a deceleration of companies’ investment cycles and the traditional decline of investments of local governments after elections,” the central bank said.
Belgium’s next local elections are due in October 2018, with federal and regional elections scheduled for 2019.
The Belgian economy is also expected to have added 69,000 new jobs this year.
“This is much better than we had expected,” central bank governor Jan Smets told a news conference.
The bank added it expected the difference in growth between Belgium and its euro zone peers to decline but not disappear completely.
The European Central Bank on Thursday raised its forecasts for growth and inflation in the euro zone. It now sees gross domestic product growth of 2.4 percent this year and 2.3 percent next. (Reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek; editing by Philip Blenkinsop)