Our comprehensive assessment of Belgium's operating environment and the outlook for its leading sectors are formed by bringing together a wealth of data on global markets that affect Belgium, as well as the latest industry developments that could impact Belgium's industries. This unique integrated approach has given us an impeccable track-record for predicting important shifts in the markets, ensuring you’re aware of the latest market opportunities and risks in Belgium before your competitors.
Belgium Country Risk
Belgium's economic recovery is beginning to gain momentum. Growth in 2015 will be stronger than the previous year though still lagging behind the broader eurozone. This will eventually converge with broad eurozone growth around 2017.
Economic growth will be constrained by the continuation of austerity measures by the incumbent government. Significant fiscal cutbacks will dampen the contribution from government consumption during 2015-2016.
A weaker euro and quickening growth in the eurozone will provide a moderate boost to Belgium's exporters over the forecast period.
Belgium Industry Coverage (9)
Belgium has historically been a significant production hub for the European market. However, falling car sales across Europe, coupled with the availability of cheaper production sites in Eastern Europe, mean that global automakers (such as GM and Ford) have looked to shut their more expensive Belgian production facilities in recent years.
However, over the past quarter, there was some good news for the Belgian production sector. In April 2015, Volvo Car Corporation, the premium subsidiary of Chinese automaker Geely Automobile, announced that it is to manufacture the next generation of its small cars at its plant in Ghent. The new family of small cars will be based on the company's newly developed small car platform known as the C-Segment Modular Architecture (CMA) and will most likely include the new generation of the company's V40...
Belgium Freight Transport
BMI View: Belgium's freight transport sector will continue rebounding in 2015, in parallel to a turnaround in the wider economy. We expect real GDP will expand by 1.3% in the next year. We expect airfreight will witness the strongest increases, driven by a ramp up in output in the pharmaceutical sector as well as from demand for high value consumer goods. Both road and rail freight will register tepid growth due to small increases in heavy industry output. Overall, road freight will continue dominating the sector in terms of overall freight volumes.
We expect Belgium's real GDP growth will continue at a pace similar to the one seen in 2014, with an increase of around 1.3% expected in 2015. Over the medium term (2015-2019) we forecast the economy will expand by an annual average of 1.5%. we expect domestic demand to be the primary driver of growth, particularly private consumption...
BMI View : We have a favourable outlook for the Belgian life and non-life insurance markets from 2017 onwards. Although both segments are open to new market entrants, high levels of concentration, with a small number of major players dominating the markets, render the sector rather competitive. Long-term improvements in households' disposable incomes should translate into greater demand for both life and non-life insurance - particularly within the sub-segments for health and property insurance.
Both the life and non-life segments of Belgium's insurance sector are well-capitalised and highly concentrated, with several leading players holding approximately 90% market share. The Belgian life insurance segment constitutes the larger part of the country's overall...
Belgium Medical Devices
BMI Industry View : Belgium remains one of the fastest growing markets in Western Europe (WE) with a US dollar CAGR of 3.4% forecast for the 2013-2018 period. The rising health needs of the expanding elderly population and the current drive to improve the care of patients with chronic conditions should result in a steady expansion of the medical device market, although cost containment measures such as the increasing use of cost benefit analysis to determine reimbursement policies and proposed price fixing for implants and other reimbursable medical devices will constrain growth rates to some extent.
Headline Industry Forecasts
The medical device market in...
BMI View: Belgium's steel sector is starting to enter a period of relative stability. Having witnessed significant decline over recent years, we are now beginning to see production levels stabilising due to gradually improving consumption levels and the diminished output capacity of producers.
As we move into 2015, there are increasing signs that the depression in Belgian steel production has bottomed out. Total output grew by 4.5% year-on-year (y-o-y) during the first eight months of 2014 to September, with full year growth estimated at 3.6%. With production forecast to average just over 1% a year over 2015-2018, we expect output to have found a stable footing following periods of sharp contraction, intermingled with sharp rebounds over the past few years.
Oil & Gas
Belgium Oil & Gas
BMI View: Belgium's oil and gas sector offers little upside for growth due to a lack of indigenous reserves. A small amount of unconventional exploration may be possible, though limited, targeting Belgium's coal-bed methane. Planned investments by ExxonMobil in the Antwerp refinery suggest Belgium remains an attractive downstream destination despite the low overall performance of Europe's refining sector.
The Belgian petrochemicals industry is attracting investment due to its strong infrastructural advantages, but could still feel the effects of a downturn in the eurozone that would threaten profit margins, according to BMI's latest Belgium Petrochemicals Report.
Belgium hosts leading petrochemicals companies with a strong and well integrated value chain. Antwerp's status in terms of both high-quality and cost-effective production, as well as extensive access to markets and its infrastructure are appealing to petrochemicals players as is its open economy with foreign trade representing more than 80% of GDP.
However, a lack of domestic markets for Belgian petrochemicals output exposes it to strong external risk. Belgium is specialised in only a few segments and risks being outflanked by high volume producers in the Middle East, which have indigenous hydrocarbons resources. There is also limited...
Pharmaceuticals & Healthcare
Belgium Pharmaceuticals & Healthcare
BMI View: With structurally higher prices than many regional markets and quickly rising pharmaceutical consumption, Belgium will continue to present a high level of potential reward to drugmaker. Notably, a distinct lack of price transparency within the pharmaceutical value chain will combine with patient and prescriber bias towards patented drugs to hamper initiatives that seek to reduce public sector pharmaceutical reimbursement spending. However, an...
BMI View : Telenet 's acquisition of BASE , and more positive regulation in terms of wholesale fixed access should create the conditions of a more vibrant converged market. Incumbent Belgacom has so far had a first-mover advantage in that segment, and the arrival of more competition can only be positive for consumers, in what is a core driver for markets across Western Europe. Some short-term volatility could be seen from the two events, specifically the acquisition, but BMI believes they will the Belgian market stronger to develop more innovative services in the longer-term. Positive regulation for fixed access would be a better move for competition than the attempt to introduce a fourth player in the mobile market....