Import/export of goods

  • Flemish exports and imports of goods declining since third quarter 2019

    Flemish exports of goods amounted to 82 billion euro in the first quarter of 2020. This amount is lower compared to the same quarter in 2019. Exports had already declined in the third quarter of 2019. Therefore signs of weakness appeared even before the outbreak of the corona crisis.

    Flemish imports of goods shows the same trend. In the first quarter of 2020 the import amounted to 76 billion euro. This amount is than lower in the first quarter of 2019. However, imports were already lower in the third quarter of 2019.

  • Flemish exports of goods amounted to 325 billion euro in 2019, imports amounted to 313 billion euro

    Flemish exports of goods amounted to 325 billion euro in 2019. In nominal prices (real increase and inflation), this is a 1.3% decrease as compared to 2018.  Flemish imports of goods amounted to 313 billion euro in 2019. In nominal prices, this is a 2.4% decrease as compared to the previous year.

    Since 2003, Flemish imports and exports have increased steadily annually. There was only a decline during the recession year of 2009, due to the financial and economic crisis. Foreign trade recovered in 2010 and 2011. Between 2008 and 2012, imports exceeded exports (expressed in euro) for a number of years as a result of the price increases of imported petroleum. From 2013 onwards, exports have exceeded imports. In 2019, there was a decrease in both exports and imports of goods as a result of trade conflicts and protectionist measures (conflict with China).

  • The European Union is Flanders’ most important trading partner

    The countries of the European Union (EU) continued to be the most important export market for the Flemish Region in 2019 (EU28: 71%, EU27: 63%). These were primarily the EU15 countries (65% of Flemish exports) and more specifically the three neighbouring countries, Germany, France and the Netherlands (43% of Flemish exports). The EU13 countries were good for 5% of Flemish exports.

    On the import side, EU countries were also the most important trading partners in 2019 (EU28: 61% of Flemish imports, EU27: 57%), but less so than on the export side. For imports too, the three neighbouring countries are very important (38% of Flemish imports).

  • Vehicles are Flanders’ most important trade product

    The five most important export products in 2019 were vehicles and parts, petroleum products, chemical products, pharmaceutical products and machinery and equipment. Together they accounted for 47% of Flemish exports.

    The five most important import products accounted for 51% of imports in 2019. This ranking was led by petroleum products.

  • Flanders accounts for 82% of Belgian foreign trade in goods

    In 2019, the Flemish Region accounted for 82% of Belgian exports and imports of goods. Belgium in its entirety and our three neighbouring countries have higher levels of foreign trade than the Flemish Region. These are of course larger economies. German exports amounted to 1,330 billion euro in 2019, which is more than double the exports of the Netherlands. French and Belgian exports are still slightly lower than Dutch exports.

    The same is true on the imports side. Here too, the Flemish Region accounted for 82% of Belgian imports in 2019. Germany takes the lead with 1,103 billion euro.

Sources

Flanders Investment and Trade: Flemish import and export figures 
Institute of National Accounts (Instituut voor de Nationale Rekeningen INR): Foreign trade 

Definitions

Imports and exports: the crossing of goods across national borders. 
Asian Tigers: South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong. 
BRIC countries: Brazil, Russia, India and China 
EU13 countries: Poland, Hungary, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Cyprus, Malta, Romania, Bulgaria and Croatia. 
EU15 countries: Netherlands, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Ireland, United Kingdom, Austria, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Greece. 
: Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, South Korea, Mexico, Nigeria, Philippines, Pakistan, Turkey and Vietnam. 

Publication date

20 August 2020

Next update

September 2020

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