Scotland: a trading nation

A plan for growing Scotland's exports.


Country brief

Belgium is a federal state with three culturally different regions: Flanders; Wallonia; and the capital city of Brussels, which hosts the headquarters of NATO and the European Union.

Key market information

Economic indicators


GDP 2017*


GDP per capita 2017*


GDP annual growth rate 2013-2017


GDP annual growth forecast 2018-2023


Population 2017


Projected population growth 2017-2050 (% change)


Average tariff 2016


Scotland’s exports to Belgium


Scotland’s exports to Belgium 2017


Average annual growth in Scotland’s exports to Belgium 2013-2017


Country rank in Scotland’s exports 2017


Scotland’s top export sectors to Belgium, 2017**

Together, these sectors account for around 88% of Scotland's goods and services exports to Belgium

1. Chemical Sciences

     2. Engineering and Advanced Manufacturing

     3. Financial and Business Services

     4. Technology, Digital and Media

Belgium imports from the world


Belgium goods and services imports 2017*


Belgium average annual Import growth 2013-2017*


Belgium Top 15 Import Sectors

Belgium Top 15 Export Sectors Chart

Sources: Economic indicators (World Bank, IMF World Economic outlook), Scotland’s Exports (Export Statistics Scotland 2017), 

Country Imports (World Bank, UN Comtrade)

* denotes an indicator which has been converted into GB£ from US$ using the Bank of England’s average annual spot rate data.  Note growth rates may vary depending on unit of currency used.

** These figures have been suppressed to prevent disclosure.

The Belgium Economy

Belgium is a modern, open, and private-enterprise-based economy and it has capitalised on its central geographic location. It has an open and highly competitive market with opportunities in most sectors.

Economic growth slowed in 2018 and is projected to remain at around 1.5% in 2019 and 2020.

Key economic indicators are:

  • The economy has been growing moderately at 1.4% of GDP in 2018. (OECD)
  • Exports as a % of Belgium’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product) were 88% in 2018. (OECD)
  • Unemployment was 7.1% in 2017, just below the EU average of 7.8%. (OECD)

Belgium is a member of the EU and the World Trade Organization (WTO). This means that goods manufactured in the Scotland are exempt from import duties.

Contact the SOLVIT team if you have market access issues relating to the operation of the Single Market.

Department for International Trade’s guide to doing business in Belgium can be found here

Strengths of the Belgian market include:

Belgium ranks 45th out of 190 countries in the World Bank rankings for ease of doing business in 2018.

  • Stable economy
  • Central location
  • Excellent transport network

Benefits for Scottish businesses exporting to Belgium include:

  • English widely used as business language
  • Good transport links
  • Close market to Scotland
  • Scottish and UK brands have a positive reputation
  • Barriers to market entry are low

What Scotland exports to Belgium

Belgium is Scotland’s seventh largest export market. Exports were worth just under £1 bn in 2017 representing 3.1% of Scotland’s total International exports. (Export Statistics Scotland)

The top 5 Scottish export sectors to Belgium are:

  • Life and Chemical Sciences
  • Engineering and Advanced Manufacturing 
  • Financial and Business Services
  • Technology, digital and media 
  • Food and Drink

Belgium’s priority sectors for economic development include:

  • Transport and Logistics
  • Biotechnology
  • ICT
  • Pharmaceutical sector
  • Environmental technology

Sectoral Opportunities

When compared to the export performance of comparator countries (Norway, Finland, Ireland and Denmark), the Belgium market presents potential export opportunities in the following subsectors:

  • Financial Services
  • ICT
  • Chemical Sciences
  • Manufacture of computer, electronic and optical equipment
  • Food
  • Machinery and equipment
  • Transport equipment

Infographic showing top opportunities in Belgium

Existing in-market support for Scottish businesses in Belgium

Scottish Government Network of External Offices, Scotland Europa & Scottish Development International

Scotland has had a long-established presence in Brussels, including almost 20 years in Scotland House at Rond-Point Schuman, right in the heart of the EU quarter. 

In line with Scotland’s recently strengthened network across the EU in London, Dublin, Berlin, and Paris, Scotland House in Brussels has updated its operation to provide an even more effective platform to address the challenges of Brexit and to enhance the Scottish Government’s commitment to playing an active role in Europe and supporting our collaborative approach to working with Scottish, EU and International stakeholders.

The partners of Scotland House Brussels are the Scottish Government, Scotland Europa and Scottish Enterprise/Scottish Development International covering diplomatic engagement, economic development and cultural promotion. Scotland House provides a platform to promote Scotland’s innovation capability, attract EU investment to Scotland and to support Scottish organisations and businesses to build the skills, capacity, relationships and productive international networks in key opportunity areas.

Scottish Development International has 1 member of staff supporting the BeNeLux countries, focused on the consumer industries sector. 


There are currently 3 GlobalScots in Belgium covering the Life Sciences and Financial services sectors. Belgium is a priority country for expansion of the Global Scot network. 

Department for International Trade

Contact the Department for International Trade team in Belgium for more information and advice on opportunities for doing business in Belgium. 

The British Chamber of Commerce in Belgiumcan also offer member companies advice and introductions in the Belgian and EU market. Their office is based in Brussels.

University links

The Territorial Development Agency in Picardy Wallonia (IDETA) is working with Scottish company Nova Innovation and the University of Edinburgh through a Horizon 2020 flagship €20m advanced tidal energy project – the Enabling Future Arrays in Tidal ((EnFAIT). Led by Nova 

Innovation, the project builds on Nova’s existing operational tidal power station in Bluemull Sound off the Shetland Islands in Scotland, the world’s first grid connected offshore array of tidal energy turbines. 

The Royal Society of Edinburgh has a Memorandum of Understanding with the Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Science and the Arts (KVAB) to strengthen scientific co-operation between researchers in Belgium and Scotland.

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