Belgium’s economy in a nutshell
Belgium is one of the six founding countries of the European Union. Located in the heart of Western Europe, its position undoubtedly constitutes a key aspect of its economy and its capital, Brussels, is home to a large number of European and international institutions.
With a surface area of 31,000 km² and 11 million inhabitants, Belgium, along with the Netherlands, has the highest population density in Europe.
Belgium is divided into three Regions: the Brussels-Capital Region, Flanders and Wallonia. Its population is also broken down into three language groups (Dutch, French and German) and therefore Belgium has also three communities: the Flemish Community, the French Community and the German-speaking Community.
The communication infrastructure is highly developed across the country in terms of major roads, railways, waterways, international airports (Brussels, Liege, Charleroi, Ostend, Antwerp and Courtrai) and sea ports (Antwerp, Zeebrugge, Ghent and Ostend). Belgium has one of the most developed “broadband” telecommunication networks in Europe.
Furthermore, Belgium is among the top 25 most competitive nations according to the Institute for Management Development (IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook 2016 Results) and is ranked 17th according to the World Economic Forum (Global Competitiveness Report 2016–2017).
Belgium has land resources and a highly-qualified workforce. It is a quintessential “small open economy”: “small”, with a gross domestic product (GDP) of 410.3 billion euro in 2015, accounting for 3% of the total GDP of the European Union and “open” with a level of openness of 82% in 2015.
The Belgian economy’s openness is reflected through its integration into the European Union as well as through its growing focus on the markets outside the European Union. From 2008 to 2012, the Belgian share of international trade has increased with countries outside the European Union at the expense of the internal market trade, for both exports and imports. This has been an ongoing trend for imports since then while for exports, this share has decreased both inside and outside the EU.
Table 1 Share of exports and imports (Belgium, in %)
|Share of exports (Belgium in EU-28)||Intra EU-28||9,0||9,1||8,8||8,7||8,6||8,7||8,6||8,4|
|Share of imports (Belgium in EU-28)||Intra EU-28||8,3||8,3||8,2||8,2||8,3||8,2||7,8||7,1|
Source : Eurostat