×

Attacks to hit Belgium’s growth: IHS

The tragic terror attacks that rocked Brussels Tuesday are likely to hit Belgian growth rates, according to risk analysis firm IHS Global Insight.

In a research note published Tuesday, IHS Global Insight Economist Francesca Peck said the Belgian economy would suffer from subdued consumer spending and tourism, and in the event of extensive police activity, from the perception that "Belgium as a whole is under attack."

Belgian police block the access to streets near Maelbeek metro station in Brussels on March 22, 2016.
Philippe Huguen | AFP | Getty Images
Belgian police block the access to streets near Maelbeek metro station in Brussels on March 22, 2016.

The capital Brussels, the note also highlights, is expected to see the sharpest impact.

"We might see a hit on airlines, rail services and other travel related industries, a major risk given tourism contributed over 5.0 percent to Belgian GDP (gross domestic product) in 2015," Peck wrote.

A number of local amenities will likely be closed in the coming days, which could be particularly disruptive for restaurants, bars and cafes that are usually busy ahead of the Easter bank holiday weekend which runs from March 25 to 28, the note explained.

But the effects may take time to surface, appearing only in second-quarter growth figures which IHS now expects could be pushed down from current projections of 0.4 percent to 0.3 percent, eventually knocking full-year GDP for 2016.

"The timing of the event at the end of the first quarter implies a negative visible impact on the growth forecast for 2016 as whole, which will be lowered from 1.6 percent to 1.45 percent in the next update." The Belgian economy grew 1.3 percent in both 2014 and 2015, according to the European Commission.

However, "as terrible as the events in Brussels have been, economic activity is typically pretty resilient to terrorist attacks," Peck wrote, noting relatively strong economic data following the 2005 London bombings, the Madrid attacks in 2004 and the most recent terror attacks in Paris last November.

Following the November 13 Paris attacks, French consumers were "not prepared to change their daily habits," and IHS expects the Belgian consumers to stand their ground, though some may substitute their usual high street shopping for online retail.

That could, in turn, impact business confidence, the report noted.

Macroeconomics consultancy Capital Economics hasn't issued its own explicit economic forecasts for Belgium following the attacks, but one of senior European economist, Jennifer McKeown, said the tragedy only adds to a host of uncertainties, including the possibility of a British exit from the European Union, the migrant crisis, and political crises across the bloc in countries including Spain.

"At the moment, it's about a risks rather than about direct impact," she told CNBC by phone.

"These types of attacks are relevant to the whole of Europe and are a threat to everybody, not just one particular country."

Follow CNBC International on Twitter and Facebook.