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Report highlights challenges facing Wallonia’s economy

Feb 15, 2017
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The 2017 edition of an annual report on the Walloon economy identifies three areas for strengthening business in the region: foreign trade, investment and entrepreneurship. The report was compiled by three organisations, the Walloon institute of evaluation, prospection and statistic (Iweps), the Department of competitiveness and innovation (DG06-SPW), and the Unit of economic analysis and strategy (Sogepa).

Foreign trade

Some 34% of jobs in Wallonia depend directly or indirectly on the foreign trade sector. But only 19% of this figure relies on Walloon exports, while inter-regional trade to Flanders and Brussels is responsible for 15%.
Challenge: Reinforce trade with other regions in Belgium and explore trade with emerging countries

Investment

The Walloon economy is reliant on investment. Currently, the private sector is responsible for 63% of investment, households 25% and the public sector 12%. The report proposes increasing the latter, favouring materials and infrastructure. It also encourages R&D, particularly with innovative companies. For example, by introducing new insulation regulations for double glazing, Wallonia has become a leader in the field.
Challenge: Coordination between federal and regional political bodies

Entrepreneurship

One in four new jobs between 2005 and 2014 originated from a new business. The report’s experts focus on the importance of supporting the creation and development of new businesses. In the past, Wallonia has tried to entice multinationals to the region, but experts underline the importance of building a large network of SMEs, similar to Flanders. It also highlights the precarious and discriminatory nature of being self-employed; the annual revenue of a man is €31,000, a woman €24,400.
Challenge: Help the self-employed launch and develop their business and fight inequality, introducing measures that encourage equal share of domestic duties between men and women

Photo: AGC Glass Europe

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