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Economy of Belgium

Economy of Belgium
View of Brussels' financial district over the Botanical Garden
CaptionView of Brussels' financial district over the Botanical Garden
YearCalendar year
OrgansEU, WTO and OECD
Rank30th (2008)
Gdp$381.4 billion (PPP, 2009 est.)
Growth2.1% (2010 est.)
Per Capita$38,600 (2010 est.)
Sectorsagriculture (1%), industry (24.2%), services (74.9%) (2008 est.)
Inflation2.5% (2010 est.)
Poverty15.2% (2007 est.)
Gini28 (2005)
Labor5.08 million (2009 est.)
Occupationsservices (73%), industry (25%), agriculture (2%) (2007 est.)
Unemployment8.0% (Jan. 2011)
Average Gross Salary-4,097 / $5,530, monthly (2006)
Average Net Salary-1,825 / $2,464, monthly (2006)
Industriesengineering and metal products, motor vehicle assembly, transportation equipment, scientific instruments, processed food and beverages, chemicals, basic metals, textiles, glass, petroleum
Exports$254.3 billion f.o.b (2009 est.)
Export-goodsmachinery and equipment, chemicals, finished diamonds, metals and metal products, foodstuffs
Export-partnersGermany 19.58%, France 17.71%, Netherlands 11.84%, United Kingdom 7.21%, United States 5.37%, Italy 4.77% (2009)
Imports$253.1 billion f.o.b. (2009 est.)
Import-goodsraw materials, machinery and equipment, chemicals, raw diamonds, pharmaceuticals, foodstuffs, transport equipment, oil products
Import-partnersNetherlands 17.93%, Germany 17.14%, France 11.69%, Ireland 6.26%, United States 5.74%, United Kingdom 5.07%, China 4.09% (2009)
FDI$742.4 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
Gross External Debt$1.354 trillion (2008)
Debt$471 billion (96.6% of GDP) (2010 est.)
Revenue$226.4 billion (2009 est.)
Expenses$253.3 billion (2009 est.)
Aid$1.978bn ( )
ReservesUS$30.017 billion (April 2011)
CreditAA+ (Domestic)
AA+ (Foreign)
AAA (T&C Assessment)
(Standard & Poor's)

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The modern, private enterprise economy of Belgium has capitalised on its central geographic location, highly developed transport network, and diversified industrial and commercial base. The first country to undergo an industrial revolution on the continent of Europe in the early 19th century, Belgium developed an excellent transportation infrastructure of ports, canals, railways, and highways to integrate its industry with that of its neighbors. Industry is concentrated mainly in the populous Flanders in the north, around Brussels and in the 2 biggest Walloon cities, Liège and Charleroi, along the sillon industriel. Belgium imports raw materials and semi-finished goods that are further processed and re-exported. Except for its coal, which is no longer economical to exploit, Belgium has virtually no natural resources. Nonetheless, most traditional industrial sectors are represented in the economy, including steel, textiles, refining, chemicals, food processing, pharmaceuticals, automobiles, electronics, and machinery fabrication. Despite the heavy industrial component, services account for 74.9% of GDP, while agriculture accounts for only 1% of GDP.

With exports equivalent to over two-thirds of GNP, Belgium depends heavily on world trade. Belgium's trade advantages are derived from its central geographic location and a highly skilled, multilingual, and productive work force. One of the founding members of the European Community, Belgium strongly supports deepening the powers of the present-day European Union to integrate European economies further. About three-quarters of its trade is with other EU countries.

Belgium's public debt is about 99% of GDP. The government succeeded in balancing its budget during the 2000-2008 period, and income distribution is relatively equal. Belgium began circulating the euro currency in January 2002. Economic growth and foreign direct investment dropped in 2008. In 2009 Belgium is likely to have negative growth, growing unemployment, and a 3% budget deficit, stemming from the worldwide banking crisis.

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