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Importing and Exporting in Belgium

Importing and Exporting in Belgium

Belgium’s key-role in Europe is given by the fact that it is the headquarter of the European Union and other major international organizations, such as NATO.  The country has a very open economy, is focused on international connections and has excellent infrastructure and a modern transportation network.

Foreign trade is an important part of the country’s economy and the country performs well in terms of exports and the general trade balance. Belgium imports raw materials and semi-finished goods that are processed in the country and then re-exported. In 2016, the country has the 11th exporter in the world and the 13th importer, according to the World Trade Organization. The total export value increased because of the higher demand for Belgian products in the European Union and Asia.

Belgium is a country that promotes trade and investors find it convenient to open a Belgian company that engages in import/export activities because of the good transport infrastructure that is in place in the country. The overall economic situation and the business policies in the country, including the laws for intellectual property and the transparent administrative policies for border control, are key factors that drive investments in the trade sector.

Our team of lawyers in Belgium can help investors open a company that engages in activities related to foreign trade, either imports or exports or both of these.

Exports from Belgium

Belgium exports machinery and equipment, chemicals, finished diamonds, metals and metal products and foodstuffs. Its main exports partners are its neighboring countries Germany, France, and the Netherlands, but also the UK, US, and Italy.

In 2013, Belgium exports to the other EU Member States increased by 1.9%. Although exports to countries belonging to the euro area were not significantly higher, Belgium’s deliveries to countries that do not belong to the euro area registered good results: +10.8% in Bulgaria, +10.2 % in Lithuania and +10.1% in Latvia. Total Belgian exports to non-euro countries increased by 6.3% in 2013. Belgian exports towards countries outside of the European Union have increased by 4.0% in 2013.

The top exported products include:

  • – Chemical products
  • – Machinery and related equipment: included here are cylinders, air/vacuum pumps, centrifuges and others
  • – Cars: car parts, delivery trucks, tractors and others
  • – Plastics: including polymers of ethylene and styrene, polyacetals
  • – Packaged medicaments
  • – Refined petroleum
  • – Diamonds
  • – Food: from chocolate to beer and baked goods

Imports in Belgium

Belgium imports raw materials, machinery, and equipment, chemicals, raw diamonds, pharmaceuticals, foodstuffs, transportation equipment, oil products. Its main imports partners are again the Netherlands, Germany and France, US, UK, and Ireland. The imports from the European Union have decreased by 2.6 % in 2013, compared to a slight rise of 1.4% in 2012. Belgian imports from other European countries outside the EU increased by 10.9% in 2013.   

The top imports include the following:

  • – Chemical and mineral products
  • – Pharmaceuticals
  • – Machinery and equipment
  • – Organic chemicals
  • – Iron, steel

Belgium remains among the world’s top exporters and importers, and it is included in the top fifteen largest export economies in the world. With an expanding clientele, importing and exporting in Belgium remains a profitable and lucrative business.

Issues to consider when starting an import/export business in Belgium

Belgium is one of the countries in the EU with a developed trade sector. In 2016, the country was the 6th largest exporter of goods in the European Union, with Germany occupying the first place. The country also managed to gain market share, because of the fact that, percentage-wise, its exports were above the EU average.

Companies that engage in the import/export and the transport of goods need to closely observe the country-specific and the EU regulations. Some of the issues to consider are summarized in the list below:

  • • Sanitary certificates: public health certificates must accompany certain categories of foodstuffs, including seafood and fish
  • • Hazardous substances: the transport of selected chemicals is prohibited and so is the use of these in certain types of equipment that is imported
  • • Agricultural products: fresh fruits and vegetables as well as other organic or plant materials must be accompanied by specific documentation
  • • The summary declaration: a document that contains the information needed to identify the goods that are being imported

Our team of attorneys in Belgium can help you with complete details about the laws governing the import and export of goods in the country and the preparation and submission of trade documents.  

Belgium is an attractive country to base a trade business because of its central location in Europe, its developed infrastructure (both in terms of ports and road networks) and the overall favorable business policies.

EORI registration is required for companies involved in these types of activities. One of our lawyers can provide more details.

If your business needs to deal with import or export activities in Belgium or if you want to set up a trading business, our lawyers in Belgium can advise you and offer you all the necessary support. Please review our legal services to see how we can help your business and contact us for personalized consultancy.