Import/export of goods

  • Flemish exports of goods amounted to 328 billion euro in 2018; imports amounted to 317 billion euro.

    Flemish exports of goods amounted to 328 billion euro in 2018. In nominal prices (real increase and inflation), this is a 3.5% increase as compared to 2017.  Flemish imports of goods amounted to 317 billion euro in 2018. In nominal prices, this is a 6% increase as compared to the previous year. 
     

    Since 2003, Flemish imports and exports have increased steadily year on year. There was only a contraction 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. 

  • The European Union is Flanders’ most important trading partner

    With a share of 71%, the countries of the European Union (EU) were the most important export market for the Flemish Region in 2018. These are primarily the EU15 countries (66% 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 2018 (61% of Flemish imports), 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 commercial product

    The five most important export products in 2018 were vehicles, petroleum products, chemicals, pharmaceuticals and plastic products. Together they account for 46% of Flemish exports. 
     

    The five most important import products accounted for 52% of imports in 2018. This ranking is led by petroleum products. 

  • Flanders accounts for 83% of Belgian foreign trade in goods

    In 2018, the Flemish Region accounted for 83% 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 1,321 billion euro in 2018, which is more than double the exports of the Netherlands. French and Belgian exports are still slightly lower than Dutch exports. 

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

18 June 2019

More numbers

Previous revisions