Belgium, things to know about the market


Belgium was one of the first countries in continental Europe to experience the Industrial Revolution, following the British path in iron, coal and textiles sectors.
Land of worldwide comic heroes like Tintin, Lucky Luke and the Smurfs, its economy has focused towards exports of goods (82% of GDP) and services. Nowadays, trade in services (exports & imports) represents 46% of GDP.


Key takeaways

GDP per capita $48,137 (2019)

Population 11.4 million inhabitants

Human Development Index, ranked 17th worldwide (very high level)

Exports of goods, 82% of GDP

Trade balance, surplus $19 billion (2019)

Port of Antwerp, second largest port in Europe


With regard to foreign trade, Belgium was the 12th largest exporting economy in 2019, with a total of $452 billion according International Trade Centre.

Behind United Kingdom (11) with $468 billion USD and followed by Canada (13) with $447 billion. The countries within its geographical area of influence like Germany, Netherlands and France were placed in positions 3rd, 4th and 6th respectively.

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Belgium Key Market Takeaways


Foreign Trade

During the period 2016-2019, exports increased at an average annual rate of 4.6%, from $398 billion in 2016 to $452 billion in 2019.

Imports reached $433 billion in 2019. The trade balance surplus stood at $19 billion.

In 2019, the top 5 Belgian exports with 29% out of the total, were:

  • 9% Motor cars and other motor vehicles principally designed for the transport of persons
  • 6% Medicaments
  • 6% Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals
  • 5% Human blood; animal blood prepared for therapeutic, prophylactic or diagnostic uses
  • 3% Diamonds, whether or not worked, but not mounted or set

The following 5 product groups represent 28% out of total imports during 2019.

  • 9% Motor cars and other motor vehicles principally designed for the transport of persons
  • 6% Medicaments
  • 5% Human blood; animal blood prepared for therapeutic, prophylactic or diagnostic uses
  • 5% Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals
  • 4% Crude, petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals

Exports of services rose by an average annual rate of 4.4% in the period 2015-2018, from $109 to $124 Billion.

Its main trading partners are Germany, which represents 16% of exchanges, followed by Netherlands with 15% and France with 12% of exchanges.

The Port of Antwerp is the second largest port in Europe and ranks 14th in the 20 largest container ports in the world. The volume of freight loaded or unloaded in Antwerp was 235 million tonnes in 2019.

 

Economic factors

GDP grew 1.4% in 2019 and reached $550 billion.

The inflation rate was 1.4% and the unemployment rate was 5.5%.

 

Social and technological

GDP per capita was $48,137. The population reached 11.4 million inhabitants.

The Gini index, a statistical measure of income inequality, scored 0.3 (scales 0-1) in 2017.

Regarding the Human Development Index (HDI), report published in 2019 by the United Nations, Belgium ranked 17th worldwide, with a value of 0.919 (scale 0-1), considered a very high level of development.

The urban population is 98%. The biggest cities are: Brussels (1,019,022 inhabitants), Antwerp (459,805 inhabitants) and Gent (231,493 inhabitants).

89% out of total population uses internet. The number of broadband subscriptions is 39 per 100 inhabitants.

 

Political and legal

The current head of government is Sophie Wilmes (since October 2019). The next elections are foreseen to be held in 2024. The type of government is federal parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarchy.

The Belgian legal system is based on civil law, following French Civil Code. Belgian legislation continues to be amended in accordance with the legislative rules ordered by the European Unión.


Belgium Key Market Takeaways


Useful addresses:

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Data from 2019, other years are stated.

Sources:

Photo by Chris Curry on Unsplash

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