By Abid Hussain
Belgium is the geographical heart of the European Union and its member states and it is therefore no surprise that it is the capital of Europe. Home to an over expanding list of international organizations and corporations, Brussels is the center of European politics and its policy making. This small country is a great transit point allowing its ports in Antwerp, Zeebrugge & Liege to feed the European hinterland by providing a fast and efficient cargo handling infrastructure.
The Belgian productivity is among the highest in the world. Originality, creativity and high value technology have enabled Belgium to develop its production structures that have favored the birth and development of new industries. . Steel, metallic, mechanical and electrical construction, chemicals and glass are the historical basis of the countries prosperity. Focused on the future, Belgium has also develop its expertise in the field of telecommunications, software, new materials , bio technology, aeronautics, petrochemicals, graphics, textile machinery and multimedia, to name a few.
Foreign trade is a key factor in Belgium’s economic development. Although it represents only 0.2% of the world’s population, it accounts for almost 4% of world exports making it the 8th largest exporter of goods worldwide and the 13th largest exporter of services in the world. Within the European Union, Belgium’s share of population is just around 3% but it generates 8% of the European Union exports. The ratio of Belgium’s exports to GDP is significant 80% – higher than Uk, France and Germany.
An overview of Belgian-Pakistan bilateral trade shows a steady increase every year with the balance of trade presently in Pakistan’s favor. In 2015, Pakistan’s export to Belgium reached a record 379.8 million Euros, confirming the importance of Belgium as a strategic transit point for the European markets. 76% of Pakistan’s exports were textile related with food products at 7.7% and leather products at 5.1%.
As for Belgian exports to Pakistan in 2015, they saw a slight decrease of 1.9% to reach 314.71 million Euros. Belgium’s exports are varied and basically represent industrial raw materials as well as machinery for textile sector. Our exports can be summarized as fellows: Industrial chemicals and pharmaceuticals 42%, steel and non ferrous metals 18.5%, textile and other machinery at 12.2%, plastic and plastic products at 8.3% etc. it is clear that Belgian exports to Pakistan are closely linked to industrial productivity in the country.
Within the European countries, Belgium is Pakistan’s 5th largest trading partner. This is in itself is a significant achievement.
Every year the Belgian Economic and Commercial representation organizes several business related activities throughout Pakistan and in Belgium which include catalogues Exhibition in collaboration with the chamber of commerce who remain our committed partners as well as having stand at one of the leading trade exhibitions. Belgian countries have shown in increasingly keen interest in Pakistani market.
The visit of a 12 member Belgian trade delegation in Karachi and Lahore last year is an indication of growing interest. A number of prominent Belgian companies arw closely following important projects in conventional and alternate energy, airports, medicines, biomass etc. A multi sector Economic and trade mission from Belgium is scheduled to visit Pakistan next year and look forward to an interesting interaction with local businesses.
These are all significant factors contributing to an increased activity and cooperation. Both countries also offer help and expertise, technology and products, so both share their future together as they face the challenges of tomorrow.