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Foreign Trade of Belgium

Belgium is an outward looking country heavily reliant on trade. The country has excellent transport networks that encourage international trade and is regarded as an ideal transit and distribution headquarters. Its capital, Brussels, is an urbane city and home to the headquarters of the European Union and NATO, as well as hundreds of international institutions, associations and multinational corporations.

Since 1993, Belgium has seen an upsurge in both imports and exports and boasts a positive trade balance. Trade generally occurs within Europe but since 1990 new partners have been found, mainly due to improving outlooks in Southeast Asia, Russia and Eastern Europe.

Belgian products are fairly diverse and considerable progress has been made in services. More than 40% of exports fall into just three product groups: transportation equipment, machinery and appliances, and chemical and pharmaceutical products. However, this lack of diversity is offset by the other 60% of exports which include a large number of products, some of which Belgium has become famous for: diamonds, carpets, cast glass, comic books and other children's books, linen, beer and chocolate. The same three groups of products can be found in imports with the only difference being that machinery heads the list.

Since the state reform of 1993, responsibility for trade has been partially devolved to the regions: Flanders, Wallonia and Brussels-Capital. Nevertheless, the federal state still retains some prerogatives: granting guarantees to cover export, import and investment risks, and defining coordination and cooperation policy with the Belgian Foreign Trade Board (BFTB) in which the presence of the regions is consolidated. The three Regions have also established or reformed their administrative bodies and other semi-public bodies such as Export Vlaanderen (Flanders) , AWEX (Walloon Export Agency) and Brussels Export.

Other organisations also work to boost exports. Examples include the Chambers of Commerce and the Exporters' clubs, which organise missions, talks and conferences and also receive foreign delegations.



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This page was last updated on Friday March 07, 2003