Home About Belgium The Basics Belgium facts: Economy
Last update on March 11, 2019
Written by CIA World Factbook

An overview of the economy in Belgium.

This modern, open, and private-enterprise-based economy has capitalised on its central geographic location, highly developed transport network, and diversified industrial and commercial base. 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 volatility in world markets.

The Belgian GDP

Roughly three-quarters of Belgium’s trade is with other EU countries, and Belgium has benefited most from its proximity to Germany. In 2013 Belgian GDP grew by 0.1 percent, the unemployment rate increased to 8.8 percent from 7.6 percent the previous year, and the government reduced the budget deficit from a peak of 6 percent of GDP in 2009 to 3.2 percent.

Despite the relative improvement in Belgium’s budget deficit, public debt hovers around 100 percent of GDP, a factor that has contributed to investor perceptions that the country is increasingly vulnerable to spillover from the euro-zone crisis. Belgian banks were severely affected by the international financial crisis in 2008 with three major banks receiving capital injections from the government, and the nationalization of the Belgian retail arm of a Franco-Belgian bank.

GDP per capita (PPP): $37,800 (2013 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 31

Labour force: 5.15 million (2013 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 73

Labour force by occupation:

  • agriculture – 2 percent
  • industry – 25 percent
  • services – 73 percent (2007 est.)

Unemployment rate: 8.8 percent (2013 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 97