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Belgium Business

Business and Economics

Business of Belgium BusinessJust as the country is linguistically divided, it is also economically divided. Vlaams Gewest, which has a large part of the manufacturing industry and the major ports, has a strong business sector, while Région Wallonne, whose business has long been based on coal assets and heavy industry, was a crisis region after closures in the 1980s and 1990s. of support from EU funds.

According to COUNTRYAAH, the country has an extensive service sector and a diversified industry. Thanks to its central location and well-developed infrastructure, Belgium has become the seat of many international organizations, including the EU and NATO, and companies.

Business of Belgium

In the 1980s, Belgium was hit hard by unemployment. Worst hit were the regions around the iron and steel centers Liège and Charleroi. However, unemployment fell later and was down 8.8 percent in 1998. During the 00s, it has declined further. The country had a very large government debt at the beginning of the 1990s (101 per cent of GDP, 2003), which forced a tightening policy with tax increases and cuts in the social sector. In 2007, central government debt was down to 85 per cent of GDP, but then increased again. The austerity policy has continued and has meant that more financial responsibility has been transferred to the regions. After 2016, central government debt has declined again and in 2018 it was 102 per cent of GDP.

For information on GDP and other business statistics, see Landsfakta.


About 45 percent of the country's area is usable land. The most important agricultural products are pork, dairy products, beef and chicken meat, followed by the largest crops: potatoes, wheat and sugar beets. The rest is mostly sown with grass, legumes and oats. Large herds of dairy cows produce fresh milk for the cities. Pig breeding is also important. On the slightly higher ground in the south, sugar beets, flax and barley are grown, early vegetables, mainly potatoes and carrots, on the dunes. Bruges is the trading center for this area. In the polder country of Antwerp, one of Europe's most intensive farms (fruits and vegetables) is run, and livestock farming is also extensive (dairy cows and poultry).

Cultivation attempts have been going on for centuries in the Kempen countryside in Kempen. Södra Kempen and Demerdalen with their light soils have great cultivation of early vegetables. Flemish Brabant, Brabant Wallon and Hainaut are also important agricultural provinces with mainly wheat and sugar beets. Around Brussels, gardening is marked with greenhouses for early vegetables, flowers and grapes, as well as animal husbandry (dairy cows, pigs and poultry).

Belgium has always had little fishing following western European conditions.


About 20 percent of the country's area is covered by forest. Belgium's forest assets are concentrated to the Ardennes in the southeast, where the forest covers about 50 percent of the area. Some of the best forests are found in the Eupen and Malmedy areas, which Germany was forced to resign at the peace negotiations in 1919. Extensive plantings of conifers have been made on the heath in Kempen, which provides a significant addition of timber and pulpwood. Wood production does not meet the country's needs, which is why imports are necessary.

Commodity Funds

Belgium's commodity production mainly comprises the processing of imported metals and minerals, mainly steel, iron and zinc. Own mining is marginal except for cement, lime, and stone; mining of metal ores and coal is missing (2010). In terms of economic value, the processing of diamonds is dominant, which includes imports of rough diamonds, valuation, exports for processing and re-imports for sale.

The coal mining in the Sambre-Maas valley was previously the basis for Belgium's industrialization. Mines at Liège were built before the industrial revolution for the local blacksmiths and are among the oldest in Europe. The most easily accessible coal in the southern coal district, at Charleroi, began to be mined in the 19th century, and mining reached the peak in 1900 when production amounted to 23.5 million tonnes. Productivity has always been low because the floats are thin, wrinkled and pierced by faults.

After the 1950s, it became cheaper to import coal from the United States, South Africa and Australia, where the geological conditions are more favorable. The last coal mine in the district was closed in 1984. The post-war coal crisis also hit Flanders, where coal mining was of minor importance. Coal mining stopped completely in 1992.

Energy supply

About 1/5 of the total energy demand is covered by nuclear energy, which is produced in seven reactors in Doel and Tihange. Nuclear energy is 4/5 of domestic electricity production, which is otherwise mainly made up of biofuels. Of imported energy types, more than 3/4 is supplied by oil and the remainder mainly by natural gas. About 1/3 of the energy assets are exported.

Renewable energy types contribute about 5 per cent to total consumption (2009). The goal is for this quota to reach 13 per cent by 2020.


Both Flanders and Wallonia are old industrial regions, both with medieval traditions and both early core areas of the industrial revolution. The plain of Flanders, both on the French side and in Belgium, has been one of the world's largest textile districts since the Middle Ages. The wool industry moved early to Verviers east of Liège, but interesting specialties remain in Ghent, Kortrijk and Eeklo. The linen industry has flourished for centuries along the river Leie, in Kortrijk, Ghent and the French city of Armentières, mainly based on clean water and local flax cultivation. In the modern era, the cotton industry has dominated, mainly in and around Ghent. Jute, rayon, nylon and other fibers have also entered the district.

Wallonia was a European industrial center well before the industrial revolution; emigrated families from here have played a central role in Swedish industrial development from the 17th century. The smiths in Liège had made an early name. The English family Cockerill immigrated here in the late 18th century and built steelworks and heavy engineering in Seraing upstream of Maas. Here, the first Belgian steam locomotive was manufactured in 1835.

Modern Belgium, in the heart of Western Europe's industrial triangle (Ruhr-Paris-Liverpool), is attractive to the large multinational companies, which have built new industries or bought up domestic competitors. During the post-war period, the heavier industry was mainly located to the major port cities of Antwerp and Ghent. The North Sea port of Zeebrugge also has an attractive location. In Brussels, for a long time Belgium's third major industrial area, high land prices and labor wages have pushed the industry into the outer suburbs, mainly to Brabant Wallon. Wallonia's old industrial areas in the Sambre – Maas Valley, with coal mines, rivers, canals and railways, have experienced many closures. At the same time, new industrial parks have been added, not least in an outer ring around Liège. The engineering industry, which manufactures various types of machinery, railway equipment, weapons, vehicles and electrical engineering products, are of great importance for exports. Other manufacturing industries are focused on the processing of imported raw materials, such as diamonds.

Foreign trade

Belgian business is heavily dependent on foreign trade, and in all comparisons Belgium appears as a country with extremely large foreign trade. Since 1921, Belgium has been part of an economic union with Luxembourg (EUBL), which is why statistics on the country's foreign trade also include Luxembourg. Between 1975 and 1985, EUBL had a negative trade balance, but since then the country has usually had a positive trade and exchange balance. Imports mainly comprise raw materials, machinery, uncut diamonds, oil and oil products, textiles and paper and food. Exports primarily include machinery, cut diamonds, chemical products, transport and food. Of Belgium's foreign trade, trade with Germany, the Netherlands and France accounts for just over half.

Tourism and gastronomy

Belgium is visited annually by 7–8 million visitors. It is considerably fewer than the country's big neighbors, but still Belgium is a classic tourist country. Along the North Sea coast there is seaside tourism with, among other things. Knokke-Heist and Oostende, in the medieval cities of Brussels, Ghent and Bruges, there is cultural and city tourism and in the Ardennes there is thermal bath tourism with Spa as the world famous spa resort of the 18th century. In recent decades, this traditional type of travel has been increasingly replaced by the intensive travel brought by the EU's activities in Brussels.

Like all other aspects of the country's social life, Belgian food is characterized by a division, not as much linguistic as the proximity to the sea and the French food culture, respectively. Rustic refinement is a characteristic that, however, is suitable for the whole country. In Flanders, fish dominates seafood; often in musty form of pots and stews, flour-cooked and boiled in beer. Meatballs are more common here than further down in the Walloon parts of the country, where game and inshore fish take over the plates, where the sauces become more and more elaborate French, where the wine strikes the dominance of the beer. Many dishes aspire to the title of national dish, a strong candidate is moules avec frites et mayonnaise; wine or beer-cooked mussels served with crispy French fries and freshly stirred mayonnaise. Where the Swede takes a hot dog, the Belgian enjoys only French fries and mayonnaise; potato consumption is higher per capita in Belgium than in France. The carbonate is meat stew with beer, Waterzoi a fish stew with eel as an important ingredient. Beer production in the country is characterized by diversity and quality rather than quantity; countless local breweries, often with ancestry and recipes from the country's many monasteries, are vying for the discerning Belgians.

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