Flemish exports reach record level in 2013


Flanders exported more goods than ever before last year, reaching a total of nearly €294 billion

Imports remain steady

Flanders’ exports last year reached a record level of €293.6 billion, an increase of 1.64% on 2012, according to figures from Flanders Investment & Trade (FIT). The 2012 total was itself a record.

Flanders, with about 60% of the population of Belgium, accounts for 83% of the country’s exports. The most important customers are the neighbours: Germany, France, the Netherlands and the UK. EU member states account for 67.5% of all the region’s exports.

Africa, however, continues to represent a growing market for Flanders. Exports to the continent last year rose by 18%, similar to the growth seen in 2012. FIT said it was working on a new strategy for Africa and was considering expanding its network there.

The single largest increase came in exports to the African country of Togo, which went up by more than 273%. Next came Gibraltar, with an increase in 2013 of 188%. Other important markets are the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, especially for pharmaceuticals. The main categories of exports are minerals, oil and petrochemicals.

“We can be proud of what the past year has brought,” commented the economy minister Kris Peeters, who made the announcement as he was accompanying Chinese president Xi Jinping on a visit to Volvo Ghent. “Together with our businesses, we succeeded in increasing Flemish exports by more than €75 million in the years between 2009 and 2013, an increase of more than one-third,” he said.

The organisation that represents the self-employed, Unizo, said in a statement that record export figure was “a feather in the cap of Flemish enterprise, and small and medium-sized businesses in particular. It is also the result of good co-operation with the government”. 

The organisation added that there remain opportunities for the government to make conditions better still, by taking steps to remove the three main obstacles to export growth: the cost of export documentation, the time it takes to obtain the necessary permits and the tax regime for exports to countries within the EU.

Imports into Flanders, meanwhile, decreased by just under 1% to €287.7 billion.

Photo courtesy Jean-Philippe Boulet/Wikimedia

Flanders Investment & Trade

Flanders Investment & Trade (Fit) is the Flemish government agency for international enterprise. It represents the region to the world’s investors.
In and out - Fit assists Flemish companies in their business ventures abroad, and helps foreign companies set up shop in the region.
Export Lion - Each year, Fit awards an “Export Lion” to two Flemish companies with exceptional export achievements.
Merger - Fit was born from the merger of the former Flanders Foreign Investment Office and Export Vlaanderen.

offices around the world


percent of EU purchasing power lying within a 600km radius of Flanders

2 005

year created