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Brussels exports on the rise

14:59 27/04/2024

In the past few years, the amount of goods exported from Brussels has risen sharply, the capital’s state secretary for foreign trade, Ans Persoons has announced.

Welcoming the news, she said: “The Brussels region’s prosperity depends heavily on its international profile. We need a strong export market and foreign investment in the Brussels brand.”

Some €6 billion worth of goods from the Belgian capital were sold abroad in the first half of 2023, 37% more than for the same period in 2022. This followed a particularly significant growth in 2022 (up 20.8%). The rise in 2021 was 10%, while a drop of 5.5% was recorded in 2020, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The increase was driven mainly by two categories: electric cars (notably Audi) and chemical industries and related sectors, which together account for 70% of Brussels exports. Mineral exports (stone, glass and concrete) also went up sharply.

Brussels exports and imports goods mainly to and from EU countries. Germany is the main client (27%) followed by the Netherlands, France and the United States.

Brussels exports also grew significantly to Turkey (+229%) and Canada (+47%), as well as to Finland (+145%), following growth in car sales.

“In this legislature, we have worked on attractive city marketing and we have opened ‘Brussels Houses’ showcasing our products and our expertise internationall," Persoons said.

"Our economic advisers abroad have equally played an important role and they will see their remit strengthened in years to come."

Exports were strengthened with support from the Brussels enterprise agency, which has 33 offices abroad. Its staff support the Belgian capital’s businesses that export their goods, services and expertise. The offices also welcome foreign investors who want to set up in Brussels.

Five centres were opened in Rabat, São Paulo (relocated from Rio), Copenhagen, Ramallah and Geneva. Two others are already planned for 2025: Vienna and Dubai (replacing a base in Kuwait). On the other hand, offices in Tunis, Beyrouth, Cologne and Peking will close.

In addition, the agency opened ‘Brussels Houses’ in Milan and Barcelona, and a temporary pop-up store in London. It also carried out trade missions in countries including the US, Australia, Morocco and Japan.

Persoons also announced a five-year international strategic plan for 2024-2029 had been approved by the government. This would make it possible to increase the impact of’ actions and “the weight of the Brussels region abroad”.

She said that the aim in this period is to position the capital as a “pioneer in social and sustainable entrepreneurship”.

Written by Liz Newmark