Belgium

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

Belgium

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

  • Economic growth will be constrained by the introduction of austerity measures by the incumbent government. Significant fiscal cutbacks will dampen disposable income and consumer spending during 2015-2016.

  • A weaker euro will provide a moderate boost to Belgium's exporters over the forecast period.

  • Belgium's extremely high national debt continues to leave it exposed to a potential deterioration in economic growth exasperating debt servicing pressure and also the possibility of yields increasing due to eurozone instability.

Key Risks To Outlook

  • Downside Risks To Medium-Term Growth: There...

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Belgium Industry Coverage (9)

Autos

Belgium Autos

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Looking at early sales trends for 2015, a total of 166,484 vehicles were sold in Belgium over the first quarter, representing a very slight 0.1% decline year-on-yea (y-o-y). Breaking down the headline figure, passenger car sales stood at 147,073 units (-1%) for Q115. LCV sales were up by 9.6%, at 16,910 units. Medium HCV sales (3.5 - 16 tonnes) were down by 10.3%, at 391 units, with HCV sales (over 16 tonnes) down by 8.5%, at 1,848 units. The strongest growth continues to be experienced by the bus sub-segment, which rose by 28.4%, to 262 units sold. Total CV sales stood at 19,411 units for the first quarter of 2015.

Looking forward, BMI remains cautious on the macroeconomic outlook for Belgium. As of mid-March 2015, our Country Risk team maintains its 2015 GDP growth forecast for Belgium of 1%. Lower oil prices and persistently low inflation should support household consumption. Meanwhile, as we now expect a weaker...

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Freight Transport

Belgium Freight Transport

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BMI View: Belgium's freight transport sector will see further growth in 2015 in line with the country's economic outlook, with the country's GDP forecast to increase by 1.0% in real terms. Air freight is expected to outperform, helped by projected strong growth in Belgium's pharmaceutical export sector, while other modes will also continue steady growth, aided by improving household consumption and demand for the country's exports. Road freight will continue dominating the sector in terms of overall freight volumes.

Belgium's real GDP growth, according to BMI forecasts, will continue at a pace...

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Insurance

Belgium Insurance

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BMI View : We have a negative short-term outlook for Belgium's life and non-life insurance segments, but expect recovery in both from 2017 onwards. As such, economic pressures will initially weigh on insurers' ability to increase their written premiums; however, improvements in households' disposable incomes will translate into greater demand for both life and non-life insurance. We forecast particularly rapid growth in health insurance, due Belgium's ageing population paired with consequently rising private healthcare expenses. Overall, we underscore long-term investment opportunities in Belgium's insurance sector.

Belgium's life and non-life insurance segments are highly developed. Insurance providers in both segments are expected to experience downwards pressure on their...

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Medical Devices

Belgium Medical Devices

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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...

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Metals

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

Petrochemicals

Belgium Petrochemicals

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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...

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Pharmaceuticals & Healthcare

Belgium Pharmaceuticals & Healthcare

Telecommunications

Belgium Telecommunications

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BMI View : Better than expected growth in the mobile market and higher usage of operator-billed services were seen over 2014. In part, this was due to an intensification of price competition and the withdrawal of a number of MVNOs, allowing key players to deepen their influence over the market. The rollout of 4G services also played a key part in this more buoyant growth story. Nevertheless, the cold truth is that the market is now highly saturated and there are few organic growth opportunities left for the remaining players to tap. Convergence-led strategies provide one lifeline, but only Proximus can directly benefit as Mobistar has yet to relaunch its TV-led wireline business and BASE has withdrawn its TV offer...

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