Business and Economics
Just 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.
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.
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 percent 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 percent 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 percent of GDP.
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.
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.
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 percent to total consumption (2009). The goal is for this quota to reach 13 percent by 2020.
- COUNTRYAAH: Find major trading partners of Belgium, including major exports and major imports with latest trade value and market share as well as growth rate.
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.
- According to AllCityPopulation, the capital city of Belgium is Brussels with a population of 1.2 million (in the metropolitan area, estimate 2018). Other major cities include Antwerp (523,000 inv), Ghent (235,000), Charleroi (213,000), Liège (203,000), Bruges (118,000), Namur (102,000) (estimate 2018).