"Biggest fall since the Second World War"

Belgium was severely hit by the global recession last year. Its economy shrank by as much as 3 percent, the biggest fall since the Second World War. That's according to the annual report drawn up by the Belgian National Bank.

Between the sixties and today, the Gross Domestic Product had only fallen on three occasions: by 1.5 percent in 1975, 0.3 percent in 1981 and 1 percent in 1993.

If we take into account the second half of 2008, when the crisis began, the Belgian economy shrank by as much as 4 percent. There is some good news, though. Guy Quaden, the Governor of the Belgian National Bank, stresses that the third and fourth quarters last year showed a slight improvement, which is expected to continue this year. However, unemployment figures will keep on rising.

The National Bank expects the Belgian economy to recover and to record a growth between 1 and 1.5 percent during the whole of 2010.

Last year, Belgium faced 67,000 job losses, especially in the agricultural and industrial sectors and the building sector.