Belgium’s exports and imports both grew enough in the month of April this year to wipe out the losses made in April 2020, at the deep point of the pandemic, according to a report from the National Bank (NBB).
In its report, the NBB describes the change as a “spectacular turn-around”. In April 2020, exports grew by only 1.3%, while imports fell by 0.6%.
In April this year, by contrast, exports increased by 46.7% and imports by 37.8%.
“The recovery of foreign trade is seen in the vast majority of products and with almost all partner countries. On the export side, transport materials and chemical and pharmaceutical products contribute most to growth. In pharmaceuticals, we see a strong increase in sales of COVID vaccines,” the bank explained in a communique.
“On the import side, the strongest growth sectors are again transport material, but also mineral products.”
Mineral products, the NBB explained, were exceptionally successful, both in terms of prices and volumes. The minerals produced and exported by Belgium are in use on many industrial processes worldwide, and after a slump of about a year, many of the factories that use them are now entering into recovery, and s demand is high.
Brexit remains the one fly in the ointment.
“Exports to the United Kingdom are one of the few negatives: despite a recovery in April, we see negative growth over the last three months, undoubtedly an ongoing effect of Brexit,” the bank says.
“Trade with the US is also declining: on the import side, it is mainly due to a decline in trade in electric vehicles, and on the export side, trade in chemical and pharmaceutical products, which held up particularly well during the first lockdown.”