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Flanders, a strong backbone for international trade

International trade is a cornerstone of Flanders' economy, making the region a strong backbone for exports and imports throughout Europe and beyond. 

Part of one of the top 15 exporting countries in the world

Flanders is responsible for the vast majority of exports of Belgium as a whole, one of the world’s top 15 exporting countries. Its exports far surpass the figures for the regions of Wallonia and Brussels – with chemicals, mineral products, equipment, electronics and pharmaceuticals topping the list of Flanders’ most important export sectors.

Impressive export figures

Discover the most recent facts and figures on Flanders’ exports.

Top 10 export destinations in 2015

Ranking Country billion EUR
1 Germany 51.3
2 France 38.1
3 Netherlands 35.9
4 UK 27.4
5 US 18.1
6 Italy 15.2
7 India 7.6
8 Spain 7.3
9 China 6.3
10 Poland 5.7

Major international trade trends in Flanders

Clear specialization

Overall, Flanders specializes in the international trade of:

  • chemical and pharmaceutical products,
  • labor-intensive products (like diamond), and
  • capital-intensive goods (including vehicles).

Telling trends

Based on the data gathered about the international import and export flows of Flanders, several trends emerge that provide insight into the Flanders’ economy, now and in the future:

  • While still new to the market of complex research-intensive goods, Flanders is expected to become more and more competitive in this sector in the coming years.
  • Flanders’ exports to the Asian Tigers continues to grow since 2008.
  • Flanders is oriented towards exportation to EU countries, an advantage in the global market as growth in emerging markets slows.
  • The start-up and development of young exporting companies in Flanders is highly-supported. 
  • Diversification of the region’s exportation palette will continue to result in growth, with companies focusing on high-tech niche segments.

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