Over the last decade the economy of Wallonia has been catching up with the rest of Belgium and other more advanced EU regions. Even if Wallonia is still underperforming as regards its creation of wealth or its level of employment, the gap has decreased recently.
Wallonia is a small open economy, which has been coping relatively well with the effects of the economic and financial crisis, notably because of the policy focus on safeguarding jobs. In terms of innovation performance, after a decreasing trend over the period 2001-2005, Wallonia also witnessed a growth in R&D investment. Gross expenditures on R&D in Wallonia represented 2.27% of GDP in 2010. More than three quarters of these expenditures are incurred by the business sector, mainly by companies with more than 500 employees, although the vast majority of companies in Wallonia are SMEs. Most of the industrial activity in terms of R&D, value added generation and foreign direct investment concerns a limited number of sectors, the main ones are pharmaceutical and chemical industries. Although the industry is an important component of the regional economy, there has been very rapid growth in service activities.