Belgium’s trade deficit increased in July to reach the record sum of €5.5 billion, the National Bank of Belgium (BNB) announced on Thursday.
Exports increased by 27.8% compared to July 2021, but not as much as imports, which shot up by 55.4%. “This contributed to the widening of a record balance-of-trade deficit of €5.5 billion in July 2022, an amount never observed since the start of the historical series in January 1995,” the BNB noted.
The bank attributes the huge deficit in large part to the astronomical increase in the cost of natural gas imports, which went from €4 billion in the first seven months of 2021 to €25.5 billion for the corresponding period of this year.
Exports went from €2.6 billion to €24.1 billion in the same period, but “since Belgium does not have any gas extraction or production sites, all exports actually relate to transit activities,” the BNB explained.
In addition to the high natural-gas bill, Belgium also procured in July a large quantity of a new oral drug against Covid-19.