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Antwerp will suffer most Brexit job losses in Belgium

In terms of cities, Antwerp, Ghent and Bruges and Courtrai will take the hardest hits. Credit: Pixabay

Antwerp will be hit the hardest by the UK’s departure from the EU, according to a study by the University of Leuven and the Flemish government.

A hard Brexit puts 42,000 jobs in Belgium on the line, especially in the food and textiles industries. About 28,000 jobs are expected to be lost in Flanders (which corresponds to 1.06% of the Flemish working population), 10,000 in Wallonia and about 4,000 in Brussels.

In absolute figures, Antwerp will take the biggest hit, losing about 7,900 of those jobs. However, if the UK and the EU would decide to keep a close alignment, and frictionless trade, nearly 6,000 of those jobs could be saved, according to the study.

Looking at the blow to the overall economy, the West Flanders province would suffer the most. Even though fewer jobs would be lost there than in Antwerp, the province would be affected more as the local economy is smaller. About 1.3% of jobs in West Flanders are threatened by a hard Brexit, according to the researchers.

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In terms of cities, Antwerp, Ghent and the Bruges-Courtrai axis will take the hardest hits.

Belgium will be amongst the most badly affected countries in the EU, relative to its size, according to the researchers. Regardless of whether it will be a hard or a soft Brexit, Belgium will fall in the top three of the most affected countries for many sectors.

The UK is officially scheduled to leave the EU at the end of January 2020, but it will still have to conclude a trade agreement with the EU27 after that. If an agreement cannot be managed, there will be a hard Brexit, with the World Trade Organisation’s maximum customs tariffs coming into force automatically.

“The chance of a hard Brexit has gone down,” said Flemish Prime Minister Jan Jambon’s spokesperson, reports De Tijd. “However, there is no reason to celebrate. The Brexit remains bad news for Flanders,” they added.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times

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