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.

Belgium Country Risk

BMI View:

Core Views

  • Belgium's economy will expand at a steady pace over the coming years, marginally lagging behind average eurozone real GDP growth rates.

  • This relatively poor outlook is a reflection of the likely impact of government fiscal austerity measures and the short-term negative impacts of structural labour market reforms.

  • These same reforms will ensure that Belgium makes up some competiveness gains against regional peers over the long-term, which will be good for inward investment and the country's growth outlook to 2025.

  • The centre-right government of Charles Michel is unlikely to regain popular support lost to rivals in recent quarters, as it struggles to develop coherent responses to the elevated terrorist threat and unrest caused by its labour market reforms.


Belgium Industry Coverage (10)

Belgium Autos

BMI View:

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...

Belgium Freight Transport

BMI View:

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...

Belgium Infrastructure

BMI View:

BMI View: Belgium's construction sector is one of the smaller markets in the region in terms of overall value and is mature, with well developed transport and power infrastructure already in place. This limits opportunities for new large-scale development projects, particularly in light of ongoing austerity measures which reduce scope for public investment. That being said, the country offers a highly attractive investment environment and use of public-private partnerships (PPPs) is well established, particularly in the transport sector. The residential sector is also showing signs of healthy growth and as such as are forecasting steady, albeit slow, growth in the Belgian construction market.

Forecasts And Latest Updates


Belgium Insurance

BMI View:

BMI View: The outlook for Belgium's insurance market remains relatively subdued. While the country is seeing improved economic growth, it remains one of the regional underperformers in the eurozone due to ongoing government-led austerity measures and the impact of labour market reforms. With GDP growth remaining low, both life and non-life insurance are expected to see only limited premium growth in local currency terms and currency movements mean the market will likely contract in the short-term in US dollar terms.

Headline Insurance Forecasts (Belgium 2013-2020)

Belgium Medical Devices

BMI View:

BMI View : The Belgian medical device market continues to perform better than average for the region, but we anticipate a slower rate of growth than in previous years. 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 to just 0.75% in 2016. 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.

Projected Medical Device Market, 2014-2019
Total (USDmn) ...

Belgium Oil & Gas

BMI View:

BMI View: With no upstream prospects, Belgium will remain heavily reliant on imported supplies of both liquids and gas. Natural gas consumption will be weak due growing nuclear and renewable generation in the power sector. Meanwhile, the refining sector will perform well as efficiency improvements and low oil prices increase the competitiveness of its downstream facilities.

Headline Forecasts (Belgium 2013-2019)
2013 ...

Belgium Petrochemicals

BMI View:

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...

Belgium Pharmaceuticals & Healthcare

BMI View:

BMI View : Belgium offers a stable pharmaceutical market with high per capita spending on medicines. However, heightened political uncertainty and a regional economic downturn will overshadow Belgium's economic outlook for the foreseeable future. In the near term, the prospect of a 'hard Brexit', in which the UK reaches no deal with the EU for preferential access to the common market, poses the greatest risk to healthcare and wider economic growth.

Headline Expenditure Projections

  • Pharmaceuticals: From EUR5.84bn (USD6.47bn) in 2015 to EUR5.89bn (USD6.30bn) in 2016; +1.0% in local currency terms and -2.6% in US dollar terms.

  • Healthcare: From EUR42.12bn (USD46.72bn) in...

Belgium Power

BMI View:

BMI View: Belgium will become more reliant on electricity imports due to the decommissioning of nuclear reactors by the end of our forecast period. Strong growth in non-hydropower renewable electricity investment will not provide for sufficient capacity to replace the deficit left by nuclear power. An interconnection line under construction to the UK will boost import capacity.

Headline Power Forecasts (Belgium 2015-2021)
2015e 2016f 2017f 2018f ...

Belgium Telecommunications

BMI View:

BMI View: With the deal between Telenet and BASE closed, the three main operators in Belgium are all fully convergent. This means a focus on advanced services, such as postpaid, LTE and bundling, with a strategy looking to upsell customers and retain them onto their networks. Opportunities still exist as many users are still on basic services, but work remains to be done to ensure competition, especially in the fixed market, where regulation remains weak, with the addition of no real planning for fibre. It has however, improved enough recently to allow Orange to re-enter the fixed market, purchasing wholesale capacity from cable players.

Why Operators Like Convergence
Proximus ARPU (EUR) And Annual Churn (%), Q216

Latest Belgium Articles

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