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Country Forecast Netherlands February 2018 Updater

Country Forecast Netherlands February 2018 Updater

  • February 2018
  • ID: 5337055

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  • The parliamentary election in March 2017 was followed by over six months of coalition talks, resulting in a coalition consisting of the People's Party for Democracy and Freedom (VVD), the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA), Democrats 66 (D66) and the Christian Union (CU). The Economist Intelligence Unit expects the government to be unstable, as it rests on a single-seat majority in both houses of parliament. Nevertheless, it should be able to govern relatively effectively.
  • The right-wing, populist Party for Freedom (PVV), led by Geert Wilders, which is the main outlet for public frustration with much of the traditional political mainstream, came second, with 13 seats fewer than the VVD.
  • The coalition programme, which includes tax cuts and reforming the labour market and the pension system, is reasonably ambitious. Furthermore, the new government plans to accelerate the country's transition to green energy.
  • In 2016 the budget was in surplus for the first time since 2008. We forecast that the surplus will remain modest throughout the forecast period (2018-22) as the new government uses some of the fiscal space to lower income taxes and increase spending. As a result, the public debt/GDP ratio is decreasing rapidly and should fall to less than 50% from 2020, from a peak of 68% in 2014.
  • The economy has definitively left behind the crisis years of 2009-13, growing by 2.2% on average in 2015-16 on the back of a domestic recovery, thereby shaking off a dependency on foreign demand. Growth accelerated sharply in the first half of 2017, leading us to expect the fastest full-year growth rate since 2007, at 3.2%. We expect growth above 3% to be a one-off and forecast that growth will moderate in 2018-22, to an average of 2.1%.
  • Inflation remains weak. Lower energy prices falling out of the base period pushed up inflation in early 2017, but underlying price pressures are still tepid. We expect the strong labour market recovery to start feeding through into wages and inflation from 2018 and for inflation to average 1.9% in 2018-22.
  • The external surplus will remain large, reflecting the country's role as a trade hub and its significant corporate and pension savings. Nevertheless, we expect the goods trade surplus to fall gradually from 2018, driven by increased domestic demand pushing up imports. As a result, we expect the current-account surplus to decline from an estimated 9.9% of GDP in 2017 to 6.4% in 2022.


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