Belgium Review

Belgium remains an important and reliable global technology supplier
by Prof. Dr. Noor Ahmed Memon, Dean FBMS; Metropolitan University, Karachi.

The Belgium economy is characterized by a highly productive workforce and high GNP.  The industry is concentrated mainly in the more heavily-populated region of Flanders in the North. With few natural resources, Belgium imports substantial quantities of raw materials and exports a large volume of manufactures, making its economy vulnerable to shifts in foreign demand, particularly with Belgium’s EU trade partners. Roughly three-quarters of Belgium's trade is with other EU countries. Despite the heavy industrial component, services account for 74.9% of GDP, while agriculture accounts for only 1% of GDP.

The machinery industry is the fastest growing industrial sector measured by employment in Belgium. During the last five years, an annual growth rate of 4.5% was achieved and the Belgian machinery industry was able to increase its EU market share by 10%. Belgian machinery industry is strongly driven by R&D. It invests 7% of its turnover on R&D and employs over 10% of the total Belgian research headcount. The industry accelerated its research efforts on energy efficiency in the last decade and achieved an average energy reduction for its products of 15%.

Textile Machinery

The textile machine market consists of players that manufacture basic machines for labour-intensive textile manufacturing countries and high-tech machines for advanced and developed countries, where labour is expensive.

The Belgium textile machinery industry comprises of about 45 companies, reports a turnover of 1.0 billion euros and employs 4000 persons. Its companies are active in machinery for indoor textiles (denim, carpet, upholstery, velvet, table and bed linen, garment textiles, technical textiles and textile finishing technologies.

That approach is materialized in the continuous presence of textile machinery companies in the top five of Belgian patent applications.

The Belgian textile machinery industry is strongly export driven with a core of high-tech customers from EU for fast cross-sectorial product development, in addition to the main export markets being the European Union, United States, China, India and Pakistan.

Foreign Trade

Belgium as a nation plays an important part in international trade. According to the figures of the World Trade Organization, Belgium was ranked as the 12th largest exporter and 14th importer of goods worldwide in 2015. Within the European Union, this country took 6th place in both rankings. Belgium’s merchandise exchanges (exports + imports) represented 170% of GDP, which puts them among the top countries in the world, where foreign trade has the largest influence on the economy.

According to figures of the WTO, Belgium was the 12th largest exporter of goods worldwide. Country’s market share in global trade amounted to 2.4%. The overall ranking is still dominated by China, the United States and Germany, which together represent more than 30% of global exports. In 2016, total Belgium exports of goods amounted to Euro 393.9 billion. Belgium exports have been growing constantly since 2011.

Belgium’s three major clients are still its neighbouring countries: Germany, France and the Netherlands. Together these four countries represent more than half of total Belgium exports worldwide. Asia is the major buyer of Belgium exports outside of Europe. The top 20 customers of Belgium during 2016 are given in Table-1.

Table 1: Belgium’s Top 20 Customers 2016
                                              US$ Million





59.922 59.956


55.436 55.394
  The Netherlands 41.050 40.410
  U.K 31.483 31.998
  U.S.A. 21.452 20.828
  Italy 17.828 18.792
  Spain 9.292 9.584
  India 7.813 8.117
  Poland 6.711 7.201
 China 6.775 6.927
  Sweden 5.635 6.084
  Luxembourg 5.471 5.290
  Switzerland 4.794 5.292
  Turkey 4.533 4.452
   Austria 3.588 3.616
   U.A.E 3.519 3.594
   Japan 3.310 3.562
  Russian Federation 3.038 3.395
  Czech Republic 3.040 3.132
  Denmark 2.609 2.784

     Source: Belgium Foreign Trade Agency.

Belgium was the 14th major importer of goods worldwide in 2016. Belgium purchases represented 2.2% of total worldwide imports. The United States, China and Germany were also responsible for more than 30% of global purchases. Imports represented an amount of Euro 382.7 billion. Belgium top 20 suppliers in 2016 are given in Table-2.

Table 2: Belgium’s Top 20 Suppliers
2016 (Imports)
                                              US$ Million




 The Netherlands





 France 32.106 31.880
 U.S.A. 29.348 27.100
 U.K 17.159 16.059
 Ireland 15.789 14.999
 China 14.684 14.457
 Italy   12.999 13.223
 Japan   7.697 8.337
 Spain 6.145 7.988
 Russian Federation 8.316 7.508
 Sweden 6.268 6.792
 Singapore 5.548 5.572
 Switzerland 4.358 4.471
 India 4.132 4.359
 Turkey 3.511 3.950
 Poland 3.742 3.799
 Czech Republic 3.263 3.712
 Norway 4.426 3.388
 Mexico 2.961 3.068

     Source: Belgium Foreign Trade Agency.

Pak-Belgium Trade

Over the past seven years, trade between Pakistan and Belgium has increased but the rise in exports has been greater than the imports. Belgium is the sixth-largest European importer of Pakistani goods, and the bilateral trade between the two is approaching US$ 938 million. The balance of trade had remained in favour of Pakistan, which decreased from US$ 227 million in 2011-12 to US$ 68 in 2015-16.

Pakistan and Belgium maintain healthy bilateral trade relations. The export volume of Pakistan to Belgium reached US$ 503 million while imports amounted to US$ 435 million in 2015-16. Table 3 shows Pak-Belgium trade balance.

Table 1: Pak - Belgium Trade Balance
                                                                                  (Value: US$ million)




Balance of Trade




+ 227




+ 141




- 5


472 428 - 44


497 428 + 169


503 435 +68

     Source: State Bank of Pakistan.

Cotton fabrics and yarn, readymade garments, knitwear, towels, hosiery, art silk, carpet and rugs, leather gloves, sports goods and fish and fish preparation are the major items exported from Pakistan to Belgium.

Textile machinery, general industrial machinery, power generating machinery, pharmaceuticals are the main items imported from Belgium.


  • Belgium Textile Technology- ITMA Asia + CITME 2016.
  • Belgium Economy Profile-2016.
  • Symatex - Belgium Textile Machinery Association.
  • Pakistan Bureau of Statistics.
  • Trade Development Authority of Pakistan.
  • State Bank of Pakistan-Annual Report-2015-16.

Pakistan Belgium Business Forum

Pakistan - Belgium Business Forum (PBBF) was formed in April 1997 with 14 founder members under the patronage of Royal Belgian Embassy. His Excellency Mr Wilfred Geens was the Ambassador of Belgium in Pakistan and Mr A. H. A Ahmed was the first President of PBBF at that time. Mr Abid Husain was the Trade Commissioner and fully supported the initiative. 

H.E. Mr. Frederic Verheyden Belgian Ambassador to Pakistan.

Mr Mohammed
A.Rajpar President PBBF.

Mr. Abid Husain, The Belgian Trade Commissioner.

H.E. Mr Frederic Verheyden, the Ambassador of Belgium is the Patron in Chief of this Forum. PBBF is accredited by Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Belgium and Luxembourg and has an MOU with Brussels Enterprises Commerce and Industry to encourage bilateral trade and business activities between the two countries. The objectives are to encourage and promote business ties, mutual understanding and friendly relations between the business communities of the two countries whilst the membership of 80 companies encompasses a diverse range of business activities with varying degrees of collaboration with Belgium.

PBBF enjoys an excellent reputation amongst other Fora as business and official circles.



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