FITA helps you find
service providers for:

Market Research


flag Belgium Belgium: Economic and Political Outline

In this page: Economic Indicators | Foreign Trade in Figures | Sources of General Economic Information | Political Outline

 

Economic Indicators

After having contracted, the Belgian GDP growth returned to positive numbers in 2013 (0.1%), supported by the resumption of exports, private consumption and measures adopted to deal with the crisis in the eurozone. A recovery is expected in 2014 (1.1%) while the European economy will continue to recover and domestic consumption will improve.

Given that the state debt is going to exceed 100% of the GDP in 2014, debt reduction is the goverment's absolute priority. The coalition government is planning to save 22 billion euro and structural reforms are no doubt going to be necessary, in addition to the wage freeze and the reduction of employer's social contributions which have already been implemented. The government is also expected to adopt a reform of the labor market, especially in order to encourage the employment of persons aged 65+ (the retirement age) and measures to reduce the high cost of labour. The general election, which is planned for May, is likely to provoke community tensions. Belgium is a prosperous country with one of the highest GDP per capita rate in the world. Nevertheless, regional disparities remain strong; Wallonia faces a worrying problem of structural unemployment.

The country's rate of unemployment, estimated at 8.8% in 2013, should further increase and affects especially the young.

 
Main Indicators 20112012201320142015 (e)
GDP (billions USD) 513.79483.19508.28527.81e536.14
GDP (Constant Prices, Annual % Change) 1.8-0.10.21.01.4
GDP per Capita (USD) 46,70543,55145e47,16447,704
General Government Balance (in % of GDP) -3.9-3.4-2.5-2.1-1.5
General Government Gross Debt (in % of GDP) 99.2101.1101.2e101.9e101.7
Inflation Rate (%) 3.42.61.2e0.71.0
Unemployment Rate (% of the Labor Force) 7.37.78.48.58.4
Current Account (billions USD) -5.73-9.38-9.64e-6.98-5.28
Current Account (in % of GDP) -1.1-1.9-1.9e-1.3e-1.0

Source: IMF - World Economic Outlook Database , Last Available Data

Note: (e) Estimated Data

Main Sectors of Industry

The Belgian economy is largely orientated towards services. In fact, the tertiary sector accounts for almost three fourths of the national wealth. Brussels, which is home to several European institutions, numerous diplomatic missions and different interest groups, has created an economy which is based essentially on services.

The industrial sector accounts for practically a fourth of the GDP. There are significant discrepancies between the three Belgian regions. While Flanders has succeeded in developing the second largest petro-chemical sector in the world, Wallonia is in the middle of restructuring, following the closure of several collieries and a large number of steel industries.

Brussels distinguishes itself in the areas of telecommunication, software development and in pharmaceutical and automobile industry.

Agriculture contributes a small amount to the Belgian economy.

 
Breakdown of Economic Activity By Sector Agriculture Industry Services
Employment By Sector (in % of Total Employment) 1.2 21.8 77.1
Value Added (in % of GDP) 0.8 22.5 76.7
Value Added (Annual % Change) 3.3 -0.8 0.7

Source: World Bank - Last Available Data.

 
 
 
Monetary Indicators 20092010201120122013
Euro (EUR) - Average Annual Exchange Rate For 1 USD 0.720.760.720.780.76

Source: CIA - The world factbook - Last Available Data.

 
 

Learn more about Market Analyses about Belgium on Globaltrade.net, the Directory for International Trade Service Providers.

Indicator of Economic Freedom

Definition:

The Economic freedom index measure ten components of economic freedom, grouped into four broad categories or pillars of economic freedom: Rule of Law (property rights, freedom from corruption); Limited Government (fiscal freedom, government spending); Regulatory Efficiency (business freedom, labor freedom, monetary freedom); and Open Markets (trade freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom). Each of the freedoms within these four broad categories is individually scored on a scale of 0 to 100. A country’s overall economic freedom score is a simple average of its scores on the 10 individual freedoms.

Score:
69.9/100
Position:
Moderately Free
World Rank:
35/178
Regional Rank:
17/43

Distribution of Economic freedom in the world
Source: 2014 Index of Economic freedom, Heritage Foundation

 

Business environment ranking

Definition:

The business rankings model measures the quality or attractiveness of the business environment in the 82 countries covered by The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Country Forecast reports. It examines ten separate criteria or categories, covering the political environment, the macroeconomic environment, market opportunities, policy towards free enterprise and competition, policy towards foreign investment, foreign trade and exchange controls, taxes, financing, the labour market and infrastructure.

Score:
7.69
World Rank:
17/82

Source: The Economist - Business Environment Rankings 2014-2018

 

Country Risk

See the country risk analysis provided by Coface.

 

Return to top

Foreign Trade in Figures

The Belgian economy is particularly open, foreign trade representing nearly 165% of GDP (WTO, average for 2010-2012). In addition to being an export champion, Belgium also plays an important role as a transit and distribution center for the other countries of the European Union.

Belgium's trade deficit, which deepened in 2011-2012 under the effects of the crisis of the eurozone, improved in 2013 thanks to the resumption of exports and a slower global rise in imports. The trade balance should continue to improve in 2014. 

Belgian international trade is primarily done within the European Union (nearly 80% of exports and imports). Its main trading partners are the Netherlands, Germany, France, Great Britain and the United States.

 
Foreign Trade Indicators 20092010201120122013
Imports of Goods (million USD) 351,944393,275466,625439,129450,298
Exports of Goods (million USD) 369,845408,745476,110446,529468,818
Imports of Services (million USD) 72,82381,74388,59591,29696,038
Exports of Services (million USD) 79,47390,95296,12599,521101,459
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) -9.29.67.21.91.8
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) -9.510.06.61.92.9
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 66.874.580.881.881.4
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 69.376.281.482.282.8
Trade Balance (million USD) -4,502-5,603-14,429-13,728-10,142
Trade Balance (Including Service) (million USD) 6,1425,581-5,099-3,810-494
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 136.1150.7162.2164.0164.2

Source: WTO - World Trade Organization ; World Bank , Last Available Data

 

Main Partner Countries

Main Customers
(% of Exports)
2013
Germany 16.9%
France 15.6%
Netherlands 12.2%
United Kingdom 7.6%
United States 5.1%
See More Countries 42.5%
Main Suppliers
(% of Imports)
2013
Netherlands 20.4%
Germany 13.6%
France 10.5%
United States 6.9%
United Kingdom 5.3%
See More Countries 43.3%

Source: Comtrade, Last Available Data

 
 

Main Products

- bn USD of products exported in 2013
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous...Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals (excl. crude); preparations containing >= 70% by weight of petroleum oils or of oils obtained from bituminous minerals, these oils being the basic constituents of the preparations, n.e.s.; waste oils containing mainly petroleum or bituminous minerals 9.5%
Medicaments consisting of mixed or unmixed...Medicaments consisting of mixed or unmixed products for therapeutic or prophylactic uses, put up in measured doses incl. those in the form of transdermal administration or in forms or packings for retail sale (excl. goods of heading 3002, 3005 or 3006) 6.5%
Motor cars and other motor vehicles principally...Motor cars and other motor vehicles principally designed for the transport of persons, incl. station wagons and racing cars (excl. motor vehicles of heading 8702) 6.3%
Diamonds, whether or not worked, but not mounted...Diamonds, whether or not worked, but not mounted or set (excl. unmounted stones for pick-up styluses, worked stones, suitable for use as parts of meters, measuring instruments or other articles of chapter 90) 4.1%
Human blood; animal blood prepared for therapeutic...Human blood; animal blood prepared for therapeutic, prophylactic or diagnostic uses; antisera and other blood fractions and modified immunological products, whether or not obtained by means of biotechnological processes; vaccines, toxins, cultures of micro-organisms (excl. yeasts) and similar products 2.7%
See More Products 70.8%
- bn USD of products imported in 2013
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous...Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals (excl. crude); preparations containing >= 70% by weight of petroleum oils or of oils obtained from bituminous minerals, these oils being the basic constituents of the preparations, n.e.s.; waste oils containing mainly petroleum or bituminous minerals 7.6%
Motor cars and other motor vehicles principally...Motor cars and other motor vehicles principally designed for the transport of persons, incl. station wagons and racing cars (excl. motor vehicles of heading 8702) 6.1%
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous...Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals, crude 5.8%
Medicaments consisting of mixed or unmixed...Medicaments consisting of mixed or unmixed products for therapeutic or prophylactic uses, put up in measured doses incl. those in the form of transdermal administration or in forms or packings for retail sale (excl. goods of heading 3002, 3005 or 3006) 5.2%
Diamonds, whether or not worked, but not mounted...Diamonds, whether or not worked, but not mounted or set (excl. unmounted stones for pick-up styluses, worked stones, suitable for use as parts of meters, measuring instruments or other articles of chapter 90) 4.3%
See More Products 71.0%

Source: Comtrade, Last Available Data

 
See More Products
More imports (Intracen Data)
More exports (Intracen Data)
 
 
 

Main Services

- bn USD of services exported in 2011
35.86%
27.79%
12.34%
5.15%
4.80%
4.05%
2.98%
2.73%
2.22%
1.28%
0.79%
- bn USD of services imported in 2011
31.17%
25.01%
24.57%
4.11%
3.93%
2.95%
2.86%
2.57%
1.47%
1.00%
0.35%

Source: Comtrade, Last Available Data

Return to top

Sources of General Economic Information

Ministries
Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation


Belgian Chamber of Commerce
Exportservices

Statistical Office
National Institute of Statistics
Central Bank
National Bank of Belgium
Stock Exchange
Brussels, Paris and Amsterdam stock exchange
Search Engines
Google.be
Altavista
Netbel
Sharelook
Economic Portals
Belgium Portal

Return to top

Political Outline

Executive Power
Chief of the state is the King, who plays a largely ceremonial and symbolic role. King's primary political function is to designate a political leader (Prime Minister) to form a new government. Following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party (or the leader of the majority coalition) is usually appointed Prime Minister by the King and then approved by the parliament for a four-year term.
The King, on recommendation of the Prime Minister formally appoints Council of Ministers. At the federal level, executive power is wielded by the Council of Ministers. The Prime Minister chairs the Council. Each minister heads a governmental department.
Legislative Power
The Belgian Parliament consists of the Senate and the Chamber of Representatives. The Chamber has 150 directly elected members. The Senate has 71 members.
Main Political Parties
Political parties in Belgium are divided on the basis of community and linguistic lines into two groups:
- Flemish parties: VLD (Flemish Liberal Democrats), CD&V (Flemish Christian Democrats Party), SP.A/Spirit (the Flemish Socialists and Spirit alliance), GROEN! (formerly AGALEV, Flemish Greens); NVA (New Flemish Alliance) and the right-wing VB (Flemish Interest);
- Francophone parties: PS (Socialist Party), MR (Reformist Movement), ECOLO (Francophone Greens); CDH (Humanist and Democratic Center) and FN (National Front).
Current Political Leaders
King: PHILIPPE (since 21 August 2013);
Prime Minister: Charles Michel (since 11 October 2014) - Reformist Party (MR)
Next Election Dates
Senate and Chamber of Deputies : June 2019.
 

Indicator of Freedom of the Press

Definition:

The world rankings, published annually, measures the violations of press freedom worldwide. It reflects the degree of freedom enjoyed by journalists, the media and digital citizens of each country and the means used by states to respect and uphold this freedom. Finally, a note and a position are assigned to each country. To compile this index, Reporters Without Borders (RWB) prepared a questionnaire sent to partner organizations,150 RWB correspondents, journalists, researchers, jurists and activists of human rights, including the main criteria - 44 in total - to assess the situation of press freedom in a given country. It includes every kind of direct attacks against journalists and digital citizens (murders, imprisonment, assault, threats, etc.) or against the media (censorship, confiscation, searches and harassment etc.).

World Rank:
23/180
Evolution:
2 places down compared to 2013

Source: Worldwide Press Freedom Index 2014, Reporters Without Borders

 

Indicator of Political Freedom

Definition:

The Indicator of Political Freedom provides an annual evaluation of the state of freedom in a country as experienced by individuals. The survey measures freedom according to two broad categories: political rights and civil liberties. The ratings process is based on a checklist of 10 political rights questions (on Electoral Process, Political Pluralism and Participation, Functioning of Government) and 15 civil liberties questions (on Freedom of Expression, Belief, Associational and Organizational Rights, Rule of Law, Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights). Scores are awarded to each of these questions on a scale of 0 to 4, where a score of 0 represents the smallest degree and 4 the greatest degree of rights or liberties present. The total score awarded to the political rights and civil liberties checklist determines the political rights and civil liberties rating. Each rating of 1 through 7, with 1 representing the highest and 7 the lowest level of freedom, corresponds to a range of total scores.

Ranking:
Free
Political Freedom:
1/7

Map of freedom 2014
Source: Freedom House

 

Return to top

Any Comments About This Content? Report It to Us.

 

© Export Entreprises SA, All Rights Reserved.
Last Updates: October 2014