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

BMI View:

Core Views

  • Belgian economic growth will be steady, if unspectacular, in the years ahead.

  • Although the country's economy will be primary driven by private consumption, the short-term impact of labour market reforms will drag on growth.

  • Over the longer-term, these reforms are necessary to improve labour market competitiveness and boost economic growth.

  • The Belgian government will struggle to develop adequate responses to elevated security threats, rising Flemish nationalism, and the threat of another economic downturn given the country's dire fiscal dynamics.

Major Forecast Changes

  • We have revised down our real GDP forecasts to 1.4% in both 2016 and 2017, from forecasts of 1.6% for both years...

Belgium Industry Coverage (19)


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...

Freight Transport

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 is home to a diverse construction sector, and its position as a regional transport hub with an open financial market means that industry fundamentals are strong. We forecast steady growth in Belgium's construction sector over the medium term, supported by a number of energy and transport projects which are planned and under way. As a mature market, where public investment is restricted by ongoing government austerity measures, there are relatively few large-scale public infrastructure projects in the pipeline, leaving growth largely dependent upon the use of public-private partnerships and regional funding.



Belgium Insurance

BMI View:

BMI View: Belgium's insurance market is well developed and highly competitive. The life insurance market is fragmented, with a number of established domestic and multinational providers competing for a slowly growing consumer base. Competitive pressures also impact upon the non-life sector, keeping a downwards pressure on pricing in some key lines, such as motor and property insurance. Despite these headwinds, we do expect to see steady, albeit slow growth in life and non-life premiums throughout the forecast period between 2016 and 2020. Economic recovery in Belgium is gathering pace and as household income rates and the wider economic environment improve, we expect to see higher demand for a range of insurance products from both individual and group customers.

Headline Insurance Forecasts (Belgium 2013-2020)

Medical Devices

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 Metals

BMI View:

BMI View: We have increased our 2016 tin price forecast to USD16,500/tonne owing to a stabilisation in the Chinese economy over Q116 that has boosted all industrial metal prices significantly over January-April. While we expect consolidation over the remainder of 2016, tin prices will continue to recover beyond 2016 as the global market posts sustained market deficits and inventories dwindle.

Global - Tin Supply, Demand & Price Forecasts
2014 2015e 2016f ...

Belgium Metals

BMI View:

BMI view: We have revised our aluminium price forecast from USD1,575/tonne to USD1,600/tonne in 2016, as the tightening market provided an earlier than expected floor in Q116. Aluminium prices will gradually edge higher as the global market moves into a deficit by 2018.

Global - Aluminium Supply, Demand & Price Forecasts
2014 2015e 2016f 2017f

Belgium Metals

BMI View:

BMI View: Despite the strong H116 iron ore price rally, prices will edge lower due to weakening Chinese consumption over the latter half of 2016. From 2017 onwards, iron ore prices will remain subdued as iron ore prices remain under pressure from an over-supplied seaborne market, driven by strong production growth in Australia and Brazil, and weak consumption growth in China.

Global - Iron Ore Production Forecasts
2013 2014 2015e 2016f

Belgium Metals

BMI View:

BMI View: Nickel prices will bottom in 2016 as weak production drags the global market into deficit. For instance, we expect Chinese imports of nickel to grow over the coming quarters. Prices will begin 2016 weaker than we had previously expected and we have thus revised down our 2016 average price forecast to USD9,000/tonne from USD10,500/tonne.

Global Nickel Forecasts
2013 2014 2015e

Belgium Metals

BMI View:

BMI View: We have revised down our average copper price forecast for 2016 to USD4,900/tonne. We expect prices to find a floor over the first half of 2016, and begin to stabilise thereafter, supported by production cuts and modest consumption growth.

Global - Copper Supply, Demand & Price Forecasts
2014 2015e 2016f 2017f 2018f ...

Belgium Metals

BMI View:

BMI View: We have raised our gold price forecast for 2016 to USD1,275/oz and have a new five-year price target of USD1,400/oz. We have turned more positive towards prices due to rising inflation pressures and our view that real rates will remain depressed in developed markets beyond 2016. A modest rise in prices will be insufficient to reverse the trend of weak mine investment and industry consolidation.

BMI Gold Forecasts
2014 2015 2016f ...

Belgium Metals

BMI View:

BMI View: Global steel prices will remain subdued due to a persistent steel oversupply over the coming quarters. From 2017 onwards, steel prices will gradually edge higher as the global steel surplus will narrow due to Chinese supply moderation.

Steel Price Forecast
2014 2015 2016f 2017f 2018f 2019f...

Belgium Metals

BMI View:

BMI View: We maintain our average zinc price forecast for 2016 of USD1,750/tonne. We expect zinc prices to reach a floor over the first half of 2016, and begin to stabilise thereafter, as production cuts shift the market to a deficit.

Global - Zinc Supply, Demand & Price Forecasts
2014 2015e 2016f 2017f 2018f

Belgium Metals

BMI View:

BMI View: Lead prices will gradually edge higher as the global lead market will shift into deficit by 2017 as production growth will slow over the coming years.

BMI Lead Price Forecast
Current* 2016f 2017f 2018f 2019f 2020f

Oil & Gas

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...

Pharmaceuticals & Healthcare

Belgium Pharmaceuticals & Healthcare

BMI View:

BMI View : Belgium offers a stable pharmaceutical market with high per capita spending on medicines. However, drugmakers will increasingly find the government less willing to reimburse expensive, innovative medicines as it struggles to hit its fiscal targets.

Headline Expenditure Projections

  • Pharmaceuticals: From EUR5.84bn (USD6.47bn) in 2015 to EUR5.89bn (USD6.30bn) in 2016; +0.9% in local currency terms and -2.6% in US dollar terms.

  • Healthcare: From EUR44.96bn (USD49.87bn) in 2015 to EUR46.13bn (USD49.36bn) 2016; +2.6% in local currency terms and -1.0% in US dollar terms.

Headline Pharmaceuticals & Healthcare...


Belgium Power

BMI View:

BMI View: As nuclear capacity is decommissioned throughout our 10-year forecast period, Belgium will become increasingly reliant on electricity imports. Despite strong growth being evident in non-hydropower renewable capacity, this will not be enough to cover the deficit left by nuclear power. Construction of an interconnection line with the UK will help facilitate the necessary imports.

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


Belgium Telecommunications

BMI View:

BMI View: Belgian operators are looking to upgrade and upsell new services to their customers, recognising that widening is over and that deepening must become a core strategy. Convergent and 4G services have driven the market in 2015, but there remain some strong opportunities as many users are still on basic services, whether DSL or mobile-voice only. Mobistar's launch of fixed services is necessary in a fully converged market, but it remains secondary to its core mobile service. Convergence will help its postpaid service, but the carrier will only be able to compete on price as a wholesaler, if it does not decide to acquire one of the remaining cable players in the market. The lack of fibre will hinder the fixed broadband market in the long term.

Improving Uptake Of The Most Advanced...

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