Agricultural trade surplus amounts to 6.3 billion euro
The Flemish Region exported 38.9 billion euro worth of agricultural trade products in 2020.
Imports of such products accounted for 32.6 billion euro. The surplus on the agricultural trade balance amounted to 6.3 billion euro. Exports consist mainly of imported products that may or may not be processed here before re-exporting.
Imports increased in recent years. Exports experienced a small decline in 2020 (-0.8%). Compared to 2016, exports grew by almost 8% and imports by almost 5%. The trade balance increased by 25% in the same period.
In 2020, agricultural products accounted for 12.2% of the total import and 14.4% of the total export of the Flemish Region.
Animal products contribute most to global positive agricultural trade balance
Agricultural trade can be split up into five categories: arable products, horticultural products, animal products, agro-industrial products (pesticides, agricultural equipment and fertilisers) and other products (fish, crustaceans and molluscs, beverages, oils and fats, animal feed).
Animal products in particular, with a positive balance of 2.4 billion euro, contribute strongly to the Flemish trade surplus in 2020. Agro-industrial products also showed a positive balance of 1.6 billion euro. In addition, other products and arable products presented trade surpluses of 1.4 billion euro and almost 1 billion euro respectively. For horticultural products, there was a small trade deficit of 79 million euros which is mainly due to the import of exotic fruits and nuts.
56% of trade involves neighbouring countries
Flemish agricultural trade mainly involves the neighbouring countries. In 2020, the neighbouring countries had a share of 56% in total imports and 55% in total exports. The second most important group of trade partners are the other countries of the European Union, which accounted for 14% of imports and 18% of exports in 2020. The United Kingdom accounted for 3% of imports and 9% of exports.
Agricultural trade with the MERCOSUR countries showed a trade deficit of 675 million euro in 2020. However, agricultural trade surpluses were recorded with the United States (150 million euro), China (272 million euro) and Russia (182 million euro).
It should be pointed out in this context that the Flemish Region is a transit region. Many products are imported and exported by other European countries via the Flemish ports.
Agricultural trade products: all products produced and/or processed in the agribusiness complex (ABC). This refers to agricultural products, food (including beverages), but also non-food products such as agro-industrial products (fertilisers, agricultural equipment or animal feed).
MERCOSUR countries: Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay.