Belgium’s Exports See First Growth in Over a Year

Sarhan Basem

Brussels (Brussels Morning) – Belgium’s exports rebounded with a 2.5% growth in April, marking the first increase in over a year, as reported by the National Bank of Belgium. The recovery signals a positive trend following previous declines.

Belgium’s exports increased in April, for the first in over a year, according to provisional stats released by the National Bank of Belgium (BNB). 

What Was the Trend in Belgium’s Export and Import Data?

A strong increase in imports and exports had been recorded from early 2021 to late 2022, but then a slowdown began, followed by a decline, starting in Spring 2023. A low point was reached in September when imports and exports dropped by a quarter and one-fifth respectively. However, a gradual recovery seems to have been on the horizon for several months.

In April, exports witnessed positive growth of 2.5%, the first in over a year. On the other hand, imports are calculated to have decreased by 2.1% year-on-year. Between February and April, imports and exports decreased by 10.6% and 6.8% respectively compared to the corresponding period in 2023.

What Contributed to the Increase in Belgium’s Exports?

Chemical and pharmaceutical products, accounting for about a quarter of imports and over 27% of exports, donated 3.3 percentage points to the import reduction and 1 percentage point to the decline in exports. Mineral products, especially energy sources such as natural gas and crude oil, made up one-sixth of imports and one-eighth of exports. They donated 1.8 and 1.6 percentage points to the decline in imports and exports.

“The value imported in this sector fluctuates significantly due to price changes on international markets,” the BNB demonstrated. “Despite a sharp drop in the annual average costs of crude oil and natural gas in 2023 compared to 2022, the average costs of these two products, particularly oil, remain more increased in 2023 and in the first four months of 2024 than their pre-pandemic level.”

On the other hand, the food and drink sectors, accounting for 4.7% and 6.9% of the total value of imports and exports respectively, directed growth. They contributed 0.3 and 0.1 percentage points respectively to import and export growth.

How Has Belgium’s Economy Evolved in International Trade?

Belgium has a free-enterprise economy, with the bulk of the gross domestic product (GDP) rendered by the service sector. The Belgian economy also is inseparably tied to that of Europe. The government has been a member of a variety of supranational organizations, including the Belgium-Luxembourg Economic Union (BLEU), the Benelux Economic Union, and the EU. The first significant step Belgium took in internationalizing its economy happened when it became a charter member of the European Coal and Steel Community in 1952. On January 1, 1999, Belgium also evolved as an alliance member of the European Monetary Union, paving the way for the introduction of the euro, which became the country’s exclusive currency in 2002, replacing the Belgian franc.

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Sarhan Basem is Brussels Morning's Senior Correspondent to the European Parliament. With a Bachelor's degree in English Literature, Sarhan brings a unique blend of linguistic finesse and analytical prowess to his reporting. Specializing in foreign affairs, human rights, civil liberties, and security issues, he delves deep into the intricacies of global politics to provide insightful commentary and in-depth coverage. Beyond the world of journalism, Sarhan is an avid traveler, exploring new cultures and cuisines, and enjoys unwinding with a good book or indulging in outdoor adventures whenever possible.