Unveiling the Dynamics of Belgian Business Networks: 2002-2021

In a comprehensive update, the National Bank of Belgium (NBB) presents an extensive overview of Belgian business-to-business transactions from 2002 to 2021. Leveraging data from VAT client lists, this dataset captures the intricate web of interactions between non-financial corporations across diverse sectors, offering a unique perspective for research in industrial organization, international trade, and network theory.

Key Findings:

  1. Steady Growth in Transactions:
    • The number of transactions has steadily increased, averaging 3% annually, from 7.8 million in 2002 to 13.9 million in 2021.
    • Total transaction value surged from €237 billion in 2002 to €562 billion in 2021, exceeding twice the GDP of the non-financial corporate sector.
  2. Highly Skewed Network:
    • The average transaction value is €36,456, with a highly skewed distribution.
    • Firms exhibit a skewed distribution in the number of buyers and suppliers, emphasizing the concentration of key players.
  3. Dominance of Top Players:
    • The top buyer accounts for 63% of domestic network sales in 2019, highlighting the influence of major players.
    • 87% of domestic network sales come from the top five buyers.
  4. Role of Wholesalers and Retailers:
    • The trade sector, encompassing wholesale and retail, emerges as a pivotal node in the production network, leading in both the number of transactions and transaction values.
  5. Local Trade Dominance:
    • Nearly half (47.5%) of transactions involve partners within the same NUTS2 region, indicating a predominantly local nature of trade.

Dataset Highlights:

  • The dataset spans 2002-2021 and comprises exclusively transactions between non-financial corporations.
  • An unbalanced panel consists of 215.8 million yearly business-to-business transaction records in euros, providing a comprehensive representation of interactions.

Access Restrictions: Due to the confidential nature of the data, access to this dataset is restricted to NBB staff members.

Integration with Other Sources: The NBB B2B data can be merged with information from various sources, including annual business accounts, the National Accounts Institute register, international trade statistics, VAT returns, and social security databases.

For further information on research projects using NBB B2B data, contact the NBB.

This dataset stands out for its depth, breadth, and potential to unravel intricate patterns in the Belgian business landscape. It continues to be a valuable resource for empirical exploration and theoretical advancements in economic research.