Although the service economy has grown rapidly in Belgium, the country remains heavily industrialized, importing raw materials that are processed mainly for export. With about three-quarters of exports going to other European Union (EU) countries, Belgium’s economy is dependent upon its neighbors and the nation is a strong proponent of integrating European economies. In the early 1980s and early 1990s a growing budget deficit, combined with high unemployment rates, hindered Belgium’s overall economic growth. To reduce its deficit, the government initiated an austerity program in the 1980s that cut spending while raising taxes, as well as beginning a program to transfer some state-owned enterprises to the private sector.
By the early 2000s the government presented balanced budgets, and the economy was growing at a faster rate than the EU average. However, Belgium’s public debt remained huge, and unemployment remained high. The budget in 2006 anticipated revenues of $162.2 billion and expenditures of $163.1 billion. Gross domestic product (GDP) in 2007 totaled $452.8 billion. GDP is a measure of the total value of goods and services a country produces. Service industries account for 75 percent of Belgium’s GDP and employ 73 percent of the workers. Trade and transport rank among the country’s leading service industries.
Brussels is the headquarters of the European Union and of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and therefore home to many diplomats and foreign residents. Many firms and governments maintain offices in Brussels for access to European Community decision-makers, and the capital’s real estate, hotel, restaurant, and entertainment industries bring in sizable foreign earnings. "Belgium" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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