Belgium’s growth in the second quarter was slower than previously thought, but perhaps the third quarter will be better for the country’s exchange traded funds (ETFs).

Seasonally adjusted gross domestic product (GDP) rose a scant 0.2%, mostly on weakness in the manufacturing and construction sectors, report Philip Blankenship and Antonia Van De Velde for Thomson Financial News. Economic activity rests upon their domestic demand while external demand did not add anything to their expansion.

Meanwhile, the Dutch government is threatening to rise duties on beer, during an especially sensitive time, reports Louise Ireland for Forbes. The Dutch already raised duties on wine 16%, but the question remains, “Why would the Dutch hit their own product?” Raising duties on beer in the Netherlands could send consumers to neighboring Belgium and Germany for their pilsners.

The Netherlands and Germany are Europe’s No. 1 beer exporters, and half of all beer in the Netherlands is consumed locally, making it especially sensitive to taxation.

The president of the European Central Bank said this weekend that the economic squeeze in Europe has hit “rock bottom.” He expects a gradual revival throughout 2009, reports AFP.

Related ETFs:

  • iShares Belgium Investable Market Index (EWK), down 30% year-to-date
  • NETS Belgium 20 Index (BRU), down 11.5% since June 9 inception
  • NETS AEX Index Fund (AEX), down 18.6% since June 9 inception
  • iShares MSCI Netherlands Index (EWN), down 21.2% year-to-date

The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Tom Lydon, and may not actually come to pass. Information on this site should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any product.