Record-breaking year for Flemish exports


Flanders again broke its export record in 2017, with €317 billion earned from foreign sources

83% of Belgium’s exports

Income from exports reached a new high last year in Flanders, with €317 billion flowing into the region. That is 5% higher than in 2016, itself a record year, according to figures from the National Bank of Belgium.

Flemish exports have grown every year for the past eight years. Last year’s total is the largest spurt since the financial crisis of 2008-09. Flanders is responsible for 83% of Belgium’s total exports.

The region’s biggest export products are chemicals and pharmaceuticals, good for more than one-fifth of all exports. These are followed by equipment for the transport sector, good for another 13% of exports.

A majority – 70% – of exports go to EU countries, which was up 4.7% of the year before. The biggest buyers of Flemish goods are all the neighbours: Germany, the Netherlands, France, the UK and Luxembourg.

The biggest growth seen outside of the EU was to Africa, with a 13% increase on 2016. Exports to Asia also grew, by 3.7%. The only decrease in exports last year was to the United States, which saw a 14% fall, mostly in the pharmaceutical and organic chemical sectors.

‘Good news for the economy’

“This is good news for the economy,” says Claire Tillekaerts, CEO of Flanders Investment & Trade (Fit). “Globalisation is crucial for businesses to hold on to their worldwide competitive position and to strengthen it.

Fit has been instrumental, she said, in supporting local businesses in increasing their export goals. The government agency organised more than 100 trips, places at fairs and seminars last year, as well as facilitating more than 4,300 contacts between local and foreign concerns.

Imports in Flanders were also at a record high in 2017, with the region spending €299 billion on foreign goods. That’s a 3% increase on the year before.

Photo courtesy Fit