Belgium imported US$426.2 billion worth of goods from around the globe in 2019, up by 14.9% since 2015 but down by -5.4% from 2018 to 2019.
Belgian imports represent 2.2% of total global imports which totaled $19.665 trillion one year earlier.
Based on the average exchange rate for 2019, Belgium uses the euro which appreciated by 0.9% against the US dollar since 2015 but declined by -5.5% from 2018 to 2019. The weaker EU currency makes Belgium’s imports paid for in stronger US dollars in 2019 relatively less expensive than in 2018 when converted starting from euros.
Applying a continental lens, 69.9% of Belgium’s total imports by value were purchased from fellow European countries. Asian trade partners accounted for 16.4% of Belgian import purchases while 9.4% worth of goods originated from North America. Smaller percentages came from Africa (2.5%) and Latin America (1.6%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean, then Oceania (0.3%) led by Australia and New Zealand.
Given Belgium’s population of 11.5 million people, its total $426.2 billion in 2019 imports translates to roughly $37,200 in yearly product demand from every person in the country.
Belgium’s Top 10 Imports
The following product groups represent the highest dollar value in Belgium’s import purchases during 2019. Also shown is the percentage share each product category represents in terms of overall imports into Belgium.
- Vehicles: US$57 billion (13.4% of total imports)
- Mineral fuels including oil: $50.9 billion (11.9%)
- Pharmaceuticals: $45.6 billion (10.7%)
- Machinery including computers: $33.7 billion (7.9%)
- Organic chemicals: $30 billion (7%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $22.3 billion (5.2%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $18.8 billion (4.4%)
- Gems, precious metals: $15.6 billion (3.7%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $12.8 billion (3%)
- Iron, steel: $12 billion (2.8%)
Belgium’s top 10 imports accounted for over two-thirds (70.1%) of the overall value of its product purchases from other countries.
Fastest-growing among Belgium’s top imports was the electrical machinery and equipment category, up 19% from 2018 to 2019. The other 2 product categories to increase were pharmaceuticals (up 12.7%) and vehicles (up 0.9%).
Leading the decliners year over year was the iron and steel category thanks to a -19.7% reduction in international consumption.
In 2019, Belgian importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of vehicles-related products.
- Cars: US$39.2 billion (up 1.9% from 2018)
- Automobile parts/accessories: $8.7 billion (up 7.4%)
- Trucks: $4 billion (down -15.9%)
- Tractors: $1.4 billion (down -0.7%)
- Motorcycles: $865.2 million (up 1.6%)
- Trailers: $763.6 million (up 0.5%)
- Public-transport vehicles: $598.5 million (up 1.2%)
- Bicycles, other non-motorized cycles: $358.6 million (up 8.7%)
- Motorcycle parts/accessories: $274.4 million (down -7.9%)
- Automobile bodies: $264 million (down -1.6%)
Among these import subcategories, Belgian purchases of bicycles and other non-motorized cycles (up 8.7%), automobile parts or accessories (up 7.4%) then cars (up 1.9%) grew at the fastest pace from 2018 to 2019.
These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of vehicles-related imports among Belgian businesses and consumers.
In 2019, Belgian importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of mineral fuels-related products.
- Processed petroleum oils: US$19.8 billion (down -17% from 2018)
- Crude oil: $18.5 billion (down -5.4%)
- Petroleum gases: $8 billion (down -44.6%)
- Coal tar oils (high temperature distillation): $2.5 billion (up 24.7%)
- Coal, solid fuels made from coal: $816.3 million (down -13.6%)
- Electrical energy: $600.7 million (down -55.8%)
- Petroleum oil residues: $441.6 million (down -22.4%)
- Coke, semi-coke: $154.2 million (up 1.8%)
- Tar pitch, coke: $65.6 million (down -3.8%)
- Peat: $43.9 million (down -6.5%)
Among these import subcategories, Belgian purchases of high temperature distilled coal tar oils (up 24.7%) and coke or semi-coke (up 1.8%) grew from 2018 to 2019.
These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of mineral fuels-related imports among Belgian businesses and consumers.
In 2019, Belgian importers spent the most on the following subcategories of pharmaceuticals-related products.
- Medication mixes in dosage: US$23.6 billion (up 16% from 2018)
- Blood fractions (including antisera): $20.3 billion (up 11.5%)
- Sutures, special pharmaceutical goods: $1.1 billion (down -14.3%)
- Packaged dressings: $410.5 million (up 7.1%)
- Medication mixes not in dosage: $130.6 million (down -14.9%)
- Dried organs, heparin: $94.3 million (down -5.8%)
Among these import subcategories, Belgian purchases of medication mixes in dosage (up 16%), blood fractions including antisera (up 11.5%) then packaged dressings (up 7.1%) grew from 2018 to 2019.
These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of pharmaceuticals-related imports among Belgian businesses and consumers.
In 2019, Belgian importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of machinery including computers.
- Computers, optical readers: US$3.3 billion (down -10.1% from 2018)
- Heavy machinery (bulldozers, excavators, road rollers): $1.9 billion (up 19.9%)
- Centrifuges, filters and purifiers: $1.7 billion (down -2.8%)
- Turbo-jets: $1.7 billion (up 11.3%)
- Printing machinery: $1.4 billion (up 0.2%)
- Taps, valves, similar appliances: $1.4 billion (down -2.2%)
- Air or vacuum pumps: $1.3 billion (up 22.8%)
- Machinery parts: $1.2 billion (down -14.1%)
- Liquid pumps and elevators: $1.1 billion (down -3.3%)
- Engines (diesel): $1.1 billion (down -18.9%)
Among these import subcategories, Belgian purchases of air or vacuum pumps (up 22.8%), heavy machinery like bulldozers, excavators and road rollers (up 19.9%) then turbo-jets (up 11.3%) grew at the fastest pace from 2018 to 2019.
These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of imported machinery among Belgian businesses and consumers.
See also Belgium’s Top 10 Exports, Belgium’s Top Trading Partners and Top EU Export Countries
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Country Profiles, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on March 21, 2020
International Monetary Fund, Exchange Rates selected indicators (National Currency per U.S. dollar, period average). Accessed on March 21, 2020
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on March 21, 2020