Should negotiations on Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union (EU) fail, giving rise to a “hard Brexit”, that could cost Wallonia just over 5,000 jobs, 0.4% of all employment in the region in 2015, according to figures released on Tuesday by the Institut wallon de l’évaluation, de la prospective et de la statistique (IWEPS). There would be even greater repercussions for Flanders, where 21,000 jobs, 0.8% of all employment in the region, would be threatened, according to IWEPS, whose name stands for Walloon Institute for Evaluation, Prospection and Statistics.
Close to 20,000 jobs in Wallonia reportedly depend on Belgian exports to the United Kingdom – far less than the 72,000 in Flanders – which explains the difference in the consequences of a hard Brexit for the two regions.
“This difference is linked in part to the lesser importance of the British market to Walloon exporters, but also to the composition effects of exports bound for that market,” the Institute explained. “Wallonia’s main exports to the U.K. are pharmaceutical and allied goods, mainly medical material, as well as chemical products, for which average import tariffs are relatively low on global markets.
“Flanders exports are made up more of transport and food-processing equipment, “categories for which average import tariffs are relatively higher,” IWEPS added, stressing that international demand for these goods, moreover, varied according to their prices.
Additionally, one-third of the total potential job loss in Wallonia in the event of a hard Brexit, would result from the expected drop in economic activity in Flanders, IWEPS noted.