Flanders: export-driven economy

Europe’s economic gateway


Thanks to its central location, extensive infrastructure, and mature logistics, Flanders is a key economic region in Europe and a perfect distribution centre from which multinational companies can access all of Europe.

In fact, Flanders has been a major player in European trade since the Middle Ages. A number of Flemish towns − like Bruges and Ghent − have illustrious histories as commercial centres.

The region grew rich and strong through its linen, cotton, and tapestry trade, and even today Flanders is known for quality textiles.

High added-value sectors

Today, this land of merchants and manufacturers is continuing its tradition of trade and export orientation. Flanders is particularly active in high added-value, quality products and services, such as:

  • Technology − automotive, mechatronics, IT, …
  • Healthcare − pharmaceuticals, medical imaging, …
  • Durable and luxury products − diamonds, fashion, design, …
  • Service industries
  • Biotechnology, environmental technology, and research in the life sciences
  • Micro-electronics
  • Chemical and metallurgical processing
  • Petrochemical industries

Some key figures on Flemish exports

  • Exports of Flemish goods and services amount to some 175 billion euro annually
  • Flemish exports account for about 80% of Belgium’s GDP
  • 1-in-3 jobs are in export-related businesses.

Moreover, Flanders’ highly educated, hard-working, multi-lingual work force has created and sustains the powerful, innovative economic engine behind these figures.

Fiscally attractive

In addition to its premier role as a distribution gateway to the rest of Europe, a range of fiscal advantages make Flanders one of the most open and investment-friendly economies in the world.

The Flanders’ Foreign Investment Office fields business development managers, who provide information and support for prospective investors. The government of Flanders has implemented a powerful policy to attract foreign investment, providing both direct and indirect supportive measures..