In-depth country-focused analysis on Belgium's economic, political and operational risk environment, complemented by detailed sector insight


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.

Country Risk

Belgium Country Risk

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Core Views

  • Belgium's economic recovery is beginning to gain momentum. Growth in 2016 will be stronger than the previous year and in line with the broader eurozone.

  • 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 combined with quickening growth and domestic demand in the eurozone will provide a...

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Belgium Industry Coverage (10)


Belgium Autos

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BMI View: We expect an improving business environment to lend support to both passenger car and commercial vehicle sales in 2016. We are targeting 3% sales growth for the Belgian new vehicle sales market in 2016.

Passenger Car And Light Commercial Vehicle Sales
f = BMI forecast. Source: FEBIAC, BMI

Key Views

  • Commercial vehicles are outperforming cars as the Belgian economy regains strength.

  • New model launches from leading players are bolstering...

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Freight Transport

Belgium Freight Transport

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BMI View: Belgium's freight transport sector will continue to grow in 2016 as the domestic and wider economic climate is strengthening, improving trade and consumer demand. Real GDP growth is forecast at 1.6% in 2016, up from the previous estimate of 1.3%. Air freight will witness the sharpest increase, due to an increase in output in the pharmaceutical sector as well as from demand for high value consumer goods. Road and rail freight will also have steady growth due to small increases in heavy industry output. Road freight will continue to dominate the freight sector in Belgium given the established nature of the freight mode with developed highways and trans-border connectivity.

Belgium will see steady economic recovery over the medium term, benefiting the freight sector. We expect real GDP growth to be 1.3% in 2016 and forecast that the economy will expand by an annual average of 1.5...

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Belgium Insurance

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BMI View: Belgium's insurance market is mature and with the limited medium term economic growth prospects, we see only moderate potential for an uptick in life and non life insurance premiums. Moreover the large number of well established companies already in situ leaves little room for new players and we do not view the country as one of the more attractive expansion propositions in the region.

Headline Insurance Forecasts (Belgium 2012-2019)
Indicator 2012 2013 2014e...

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Medical Devices

Belgium Medical Devices

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BMI Industry View : We forecast a slower rate of market growth in Belgium than in previous years, at a 2014-2019 CAGR of 2.7% in US dollar terms. The health sector is set for a further period on austerity following the government's decision to cut the growth target for health insurance spending from 3.0% to 1.5% in 2015 and beyond. At the same time, the rising health needs of the expanding elderly population and the drive to improve the care of patients with chronic conditions will continue to drive a steady expansion of the medical device market.

Headline Industry Forecasts

  • We forecast that the medical device market will grow at a 2014-2019 CAGR of 2.7% in US dollar terms, reaching USD3.0bn in 2019. The low dollar grow rate reflects a weak euro, which will result in a contraction in the market in 2015 before a return to growth in...

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Belgium Metals

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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.


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Oil & Gas

Belgium Oil & Gas

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BMI View: Gas consumption will remain weak due growing nuclear and renewable generation in the power sector. The refining sector will perform well as efficiency improvements and low oil prices increase the competitiveness of the Belgian downstream.

Headline Forecasts (Belgium 2013-2019)
2013 2014e 2015f 2016f 2017f

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Belgium Petrochemicals

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Belgium's export sector has traditionally been dominated by relatively low technology goods supplying downstream processors in Germany and elsewhere. However, increased investment throughout the value chain, particularly in products utilised by the automotive industry, will improve the external competitiveness of the petrochemicals sector. The Belgian petrochemicals industry has managed to buck the trend in Western Europe with a rise in capacities in some segments.

Chemicals output declined 0.4% y-o-y in the first eight months of 2015, putting the sector on course for a fourth year of recession. Meanwhile, rubber production rose just 0.8%, although this came after a robust performance in recent years. Plastic output grew 3.1%, a rate of growth was more than double the level achieved in 2014 and considerably better than previous years.

Evonik's addition of 100,000tpa of butadiene...

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Pharmaceuticals & Healthcare

Belgium Pharmaceuticals & Healthcare

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Belgian pharmaceutical expenditure will continue to expand at a modest rate, into the forecast period. This growth will be restrained by the fiscal pressures imposed by the costly and unwieldy public provisions for healthcare typical of similarly mature western European markets. However, a marked lack of price transparency within the value chain will continue to produce structurally higher prices relative to most other markets, and see incumbent drug makers able to earn significant rewards from innovative pharmaceuticals in the country. Badly needed reforms to public healthcare, aggressively pushed through by current leadership are likely to become a notable source of political instability as fiscal tightening touches upon divisive social issues.

Headline Expenditure Projections

  • Pharmaceuticals: From EUR5.83bn (USD7.81bn) in 2014 to EUR5.85bn (USD6.43bn) in 2015...

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Belgium Power

BMI View:

BMI View: Following the Fukushima nuclear disaster, Belgium took a decision to phase out nuclear generation by 2025, with the first units due to go offline for decommissioning this year. However, BMI believes that supply security issues have lead the Belgian government to reconsider its stance, and allow for a 10-year lifetime extension for units 1 and 2 at the Doel nuclear plant. This should limit supply tightness in the short-term, but as the decommissioning gets into full swing in 2022, Belgium will become increasingly more dependent on its neighbours for power imports.

BMI believes that over the...

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Belgium Telecommunications

BMI View:

BMI View: Telenet's acquisition of BASE was set to create the conditions of a more vibrant converged market, but as the European Commission has launched an investigation into a deal. Although a negative sign for the consolidation, this could mean still mean there would still remain three operators to the 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.


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