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Flanders-China trade and investment

Flanders-China trade and investment

In 2013 Flanders’ exports to China reached €6.8 billion and its imports from China €11.28 billion, leaving a trade deficit of €4.48 billion. Flanders’ exports accounted for more than 90% of Belgium’s exports to China and slightly lower than 90% of Belgium’s imports from China. Flanders’ exports mainly consisted of chemical and pharmaceutical products, transport equipment and metals; and its imports were mainly machines, electrical equipment, metals and textiles.

In the past three years Flanders’ trade deficit has been shrinking from €6.19 billion in 2011 to €4.48 billion in 2013 and the export-import ratio has been improving. In 2013 trade between Flanders and China has been dropping by about 5% compared to the previous year.

In 2012 China’s contribution to Flanders’ exports rose to 2.46%, becoming Flanders 8th most important export market. Flanders accounted for 0.5% of China’s total imports in 2012, becoming China’s 23rd largest importer.

Trade between China and Belgium has been increasing strongly in the past decade, although in the last three years Belgium’s exports to China have been fluctuating and its imports from China have been decreasing. Belgium has a trade deficit with China which roughly equaled its exports to the country in 2011 but has since been decreasing.

 Trade with China



                Growth rate


                  Growth rate

Belgium exports






Flanders exports






% Flanders




Belgium imports






Flanders imports






% Flanders




Belgium deficit






Flanders deficit






(in billion euro)

The above figures do not include trade in services, for which no regional statistics are available. In 2012, Belgium exported services valued at €944 million to China and imported €422 million from China. The services trade balance shows a surplus in favor of Belgium.

China is a popular destination for Belgian investors. Total Belgian-funded projects numbered 912 by the end of last year. The combined €958 million in investment involves such fields as construction materials, energy, food and chemicals. The biggest Flemish investors in China include Bekaert and Barco.

In addition, Belgium has also been one of China’s most important sources of technology. By the end of last year, 774 items of technology involving €2.5 billion in contractual value were in use in China.

China’s direct investment in Belgium has grown nearly 10 folds over the past five years. Chinese companies have made a total  investment of €2.2 billion in Belgium covering a wide range of sectors including finance, agriculture, hotels, ports and telecommunications, according to an article in the China Daily by Sun Yongfu,  Director General of the European Department of the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM).