Belgian Trade Faces Continued Contraction, Pharmaceutical Imbalance Emerges

The National Bank of Belgium reports a sustained decline in Belgian imports and exports, registering -26.0% and -20.2%, respectively, for the period from July to September 2023. This ongoing downturn, initiated in early 2023, sees negative growth persist, with September figures revealing contractions of -24.5% for imports and -21.6% for exports.

Despite an overall stable trade balance of 11 billion euros for the first nine months of 2023, compared to 11.3 billion euros the previous year, significant shifts in product-specific balances are occurring. Notably, the trade balance for chemicals declined from 21.1 billion euros to 10.7 billion euros in the first nine months of 2023, primarily due to reduced exports of pharmaceuticals, including vaccines.

While the decline is attributed to restructuring in the chemical sector, there is an upward trend in trade balances for mineral products, food, and transport equipment.