Flemish businesses exported goods for a total worth of 317 billion euros last year, a new record and 5% more than their 2016 tally of 302 billion, Flanders’ Prime Minister Geert Bourgeois said on Monday.
This was the eighth consecutive annual increase in exports from the north of the country, which accounted for 83.2% of Belgium’s total exports. Wallonia and Brussels Capital Region represented 14.2% and 2.5% of the total respectively.
Most (70.1%) of the Flemish exports went to other European Union (EU) member countries, with Germany, the Netherlands, France, the United Kingdom and Luxembourg as the main destinations.
The prospect of Britain’s withdrawal from the EU (Brexit) did not seem to have a real effect on trade with London. Exports to the UK dropped only slightly, by 0.4%, last year.
Exports from Flanders also did well on the non-EU European market, increasing globally by 17.6%, due mainly to increased sales to Switzerland (+22.2%), Turkey (+18.9%) and Russia (+11%).
Outside of Europe, exports to the African market shot up by 13%, while sales to the Middle East increased by 4.6% and exports to Asia went up by 3.7%, due mainly to a significant jump of 15.6% in sales to China.
The only continent with which negative export growth was recorded was the Americas, due mainly to a 13.9% plunge in exports to the United States.