Click here to read Rabobank's economic vision for this country. The information and publications in this tab are prepared and made available by third parties and are only available in English. No rights can be derived. Rabobank is not responsible or liable for the information and publications. Click here for the full disclaimer.

Trade Profile

In this page: Foreign Trade in Figures | Trade Compliance | Standards

 

Foreign Trade in Figures

The Belgian economy is particularly open, with foreign trade representing 164% of GDP (World Bank, 2015). In addition to being considered an export champion, Belgium plays an important role as a transit and distribution centre for other countries in the European Union.

Belgium's trade deficit, which deepened between 2011 and 2012 following the Eurozone crisis, has recovered. In 2016, imports increased at a lesser rate than exports, which has helped to strengthen its positive trade balance. In 2016, the main export products were chemical and mining products as well as transportation equipment.

Belgian international trade is primarily with the European Union (nearly 80% of exports and imports). Its main trade partners include the Netherlands, Germany, France, the United Kingdom and the United States. The fall of British demand as a result of Brexit could negatively impact Belgian exports in 2017.

 
Foreign Trade Indicators 20122013201420152016
Imports of Goods (million USD) 439,128451,677454,632375,267367,378
Exports of Goods (million USD) 445,939468,760472,319398,158395,881
Imports of Services (million USD) 97,702103,820116,806105,530107,417
Exports of Services (million USD) 104,340110,572121,977109,347111,017
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 1.40.35.94.36.0
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 1.80.85.14.36.0
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 81.780.782.381.382.1
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 82.381.883.282.984.5
Trade Balance (million USD) -12,425-8,816-6,0442,8456,473
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 164.0162.5165.5164.2166.5

Source: World Trade Organisation (WTO) - 2017; World Bank - 2017

 

Main Partner Countries

Main Customers
(% of Exports)
2016
Germany 16.7%
France 15.4%
Netherlands 11.2%
United Kingdom 8.9%
United States 5.8%
Italy 5.2%
Spain 2.7%
India 2.3%
Poland 2.0%
China 1.9%
Main Suppliers
(% of Imports)
2016
Netherlands 16.1%
Germany 13.6%
France 9.5%
United States 8.1%
United Kingdom 4.8%
Ireland 4.5%
China 4.3%
Italy 3.9%
Japan 2.5%
Spain 2.4%

Source: Comtrade, 2017

 

Main Products

398.0 bn USD of products exported in 2016
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) 7.6%
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) 6.6%
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 5.0%
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) 4.0%
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 3.3%
Heterocyclic compounds with nitrogen hetero-atom[s] only 2.2%
Instruments and appliances used in medical, surgical, dental or veterinary sciences, incl. scintigraphic apparatus, other electro-medical apparatus and sight-testing instruments, n.e.s. 1.6%
Polymers of ethylene, in primary forms 1.4%
Parts and accessories for tractors, motor vehicles for the transport of ten or more persons, motor cars and other motor vehicles principally designed for the transport of persons, motor vehicles for the transport of goods and special purpose motor vehicles of heading 8701 to 8705, n.e.s. 1.4%
Petroleum gas and other gaseous hydrocarbons 1.1%
372.7 bn USD of products imported in 2016
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) 8.4%
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) 5.8%
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 4.3%
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%
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals, crude 3.1%
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 3.0%
Heterocyclic compounds with nitrogen hetero-atom[s] only 2.3%
Petroleum gas and other gaseous hydrocarbons 2.2%
Parts and accessories for tractors, motor vehicles for the transport of ten or more persons, motor cars and other motor vehicles principally designed for the transport of persons, motor vehicles for the transport of goods and special purpose motor vehicles of heading 8701 to 8705, n.e.s. 2.0%
Instruments and appliances used in medical, surgical, dental or veterinary sciences, incl. scintigraphic apparatus, other electro-medical apparatus and sight-testing instruments, n.e.s. 1.4%

Source: Comtrade, 2017

 
 
 

Main Services

240.0 bn USD of services exported in 2014
Other business services
41.21%
Transportation
20.71%
Travel
11.67%
Computer and information services
6.73%
Financial services
4.67%
Construction services
4.18%
Communications services
3.75%
Royalties and license fees
2.79%
Government services
1.57%
Insurance services
1.56%
Cultural and recreational services
1.16%
226.5 bn USD of services imported in 2014
Other business services
37.05%
Travel
21.04%
Transportation
20.06%
Computer and information services
5.07%
Financial services
4.52%
Communications services
3.23%
Royalties and license fees
3.06%
Construction services
2.97%
Insurance services
1.71%
Cultural and recreational services
1.14%
Government services
0.14%

Source: United Nations Statistics Division, Latest Available Data

 

Exchange Rate System

Local Currency
Euro (EUR)
Exchange Rate Regime
Floating exchange regime.
Level of Currency Instability
Very limited exchange risk since the euro is a major currency.
 
 
Monetary Indicators 20122013201420152016
Euro (EUR) - Average Annual Exchange Rate For 1 USD 0.810.780.780.940.94

Source: The European Central Bank - Latest available data.

 
 

Trade Compliance

International Conventions
Member of World Trade Organisation
Member of OECD
Party to the Kyoto Protocol
Party to the Washington Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora
Party to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal
Party to the Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer
Party to the Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls For Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies
Party of the International Coffee Agreement 2007
Main International Economic Cooperation
Belgium is one of the founding members of the European Union and has been one of the foremost proponents of regional economic integration.
Party of the ATA Convention on Temporary Admissions and Use of the Carnets
Yes

As a Reminder, the ATA is a System Allowing the Free Movement of Goods Across Frontiers and Their Temporary Admission Into a Customs Territory With Relief From Duties and Taxes. The Goods Are Covered By a Single Document Known as the ATA Carnet That is Secured By an International Guarantee System.
Look Up the Other Member Countries And Read the Web Pages of the World Customs Organization Devoted to the ATA Carnet.
Party of the TIR Convention
Yes

As a Reminder, the TIR Convention and its Transit Regime Contribute to the Facilitation of International Transport, Especially International Road Transport, Not Only in Europe and the Middle East, But Also in Other Parts of the World, Such as Africa and Latin America.
The UNCTAD Website Allows You to Read the TIR Convention, See the List of Member Countries And to Find Further Information.
Accompanying Documents For Imports
Single Administrative Document (SAD) for non-agricultural documentation, phytosanitary certificates, sanitary certificates for agricultural documentation. Consult import requirements and documentation on  European Commission.
Free Zones
None. Nevertheless, Belgium uses the concept of customs warehouses, where non-EU imported goods may be stored without payment of customs duties and VAT.
For Further Information
Custom and Excise Administration
Paperless Custom and Excises Procedure
NCI Multiburo , Business center Belgium
Non Tariff Barriers
At the European level, agricultural products are protected within the Common Agricultural Policy. Textile products from China, Belarus, North Korea, Montenegro, Kosovo and Uzbekistan are subject to particular formalities and import licenses or control procedures (such as export documents and monitoring documents).
Assessment of Commercial Policy
Belgium and the WTO
Barriers to exchanges, inventoried by the United States
Import barriers, according to the American authorities

Learn more about How to Export to Belgium on Globaltrade.net, the Directory for International Trade Service Providers.

 

Standards

National Standards Organisations
Belgium Institute of Standardisation
Integration in the International Standards Network
At the European level: the European Committee for Standardisation (CEN) and the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardisation (CENELEC) and the European Telecommunications Standards Institute.
At the international level: the International Standards Organisation (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC).
Obligation to Use Standards
A manufacturer can choose not to use the harmonized EU standards, but then must demonstrate that the product meets the essential safety and performance requirements. Complete information on the website of the Ministry of Economic Affairs
Classification of Standards
CE is the European certification mark
Online Consultation of Standards
The ISO catalogue
Certification Organisations
The Belgium Institute of Standardisation

 

© Export Entreprises SA, All Rights Reserved.
Last Updates: October 2017