Share article:
Share article:

Food producers complain of taxes crippling growth

© vilt.be

Food producers from both parts of the country have joined in condemning the level of taxes and excise duties they are subjected to, which they blame for a slowing down of the sector’s economic performance.

Earlier in the month the national figures were presented by sector federation Fevia, which showed drops in sales, in investment and in imports, and only disappointingly small increases in exports and employment.

The food production industry in Belgium is clearly split between Flanders and Wallonia, to the tune of 8.5 billion euros in 2018 for Wallonia, with more than 43 billion for Flanders. Nevertheless, the problems being faced by the sector are the same on both sides of the regional border, according to statements made at the opening of the recent agricultural fair at Libramont in Luxembourg province – an annual event bringing together farmers from across the country.

A lasagne of excise duties, taxes and charges that make our products too expensive in Belgium, and stimulate cross-border shopping,” explained Guy Paternoster, president of Fevia Wallonia. The last point had been raised too by Bart Buysse, national president, when presenting global figures earlier this month. But more importantly, the rising cost of Belgian products is having a depressing effect on exports.

Our engine of growth, which is exports, in beginning to splutter,” he said. Exports last year grew by 3.5% last year, much less than in previous years (7.5% growth in 2017, and around 5% annual growth over the last decade. “More importantly exports are no longer able to compensate for the continuing decline of sales on the domestic market,” Buysse said. As a result, total sales were down for the first time in years in 2018, by 0.8% to 51.8 million euros.

The decline in sales in Wallonia, Paternoster said, was even more alarming, at -1.7%. And he called on the future Walloon government to adopt a policy of value creation rather than taxation. In Wallonia, the food production sector is the largest private-sector employer, as it is in Flanders. Anything that negatively affects the sector will affect jobs nationwide, and the economy as a whole, Fevia argues.

Some key economic figures from Fevia’s annual report on 2018:
Exports: 27.6 billion (+3.5%)
Imports: 22.2 billion (-0.7%)
Trade balance: 5.5 billion (+24.8%)
Direct employment: 92,743 (+2.2%)
Indirect employment: 173,104 (+2%)
Sales: 51.8 billion (-0.8%)
Investments: 1.6 billion (-6.7%)

Source: Fevia

Alan Hope
The Brussels Times

Latest news

Brussels Airport adds 10 flight destinations this winter
Some 130 destinations will be served from Brussels Airport this winter, the company announced on Monday, just a few days before the start of the ...
Brussels pharmacies report rush on rapid tests due to Covid Safe Ticket
Many pharmacists in Brussels have noticed a remarkable increase in the demand for Covid-19 tests this weekend, following the official expansion of ...
Students filmed naked on ULB campus given a warning
A group of students caught on camera mimicking sexual acts on the campus of the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) have been issued an official ...
EU Digital Covid Certificate becomes an international success story
The European Commission adopted on Monday a report on the EU Digital Covid Certificate and its implementation across the EU. According to the ...
Belgian chocolatier agrees to $15 million settlement over misled consumers allegations
Internationally recognised Belgian chocolate manufacturer Godiva has reached a $15 million (€12.9 million) settlement after US consumers said they ...
‘Buying second home does not mean you are rich’: government disagrees on tax break
The Francophone liberal MR party and the Flemish socialist Vooruit party strongly disagree on the current scheme for tax benefits on people's second ...
EMA starts evaluating Pfizer vaccine for children over 5 years old
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has started evaluating an application to extend the use of the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine to children ...
Energy prices: EU’s demand and supply dilemma in importing natural gas
The European Commission adopted last week a plan on how to tackle the rise in global energy prices in the short-term while relying on the transition ...
Tram line and cycle path to connect Brussels’ outskirts to airport
Works on a tram line connecting Brussels, the NATO headquarters and Brussels Airport in Zaventem, which could attract up to 10,000 passengers a day, ...
SKYFALL: European police complete counter-drone training in Antwerp
In a joint project between Belgium’s federal police and the Brussels Capital Ixelles Policing Area, 15 European police officers visited Antwerp to ...
Offshore wind farms could help reach climate neutrality by 2050
A study carried out by the Bureau fédérale du Plan (BFP) – an independent Belgian organisation that investigates questions of environmental and ...
Will Brussels bounce back?
The lockdowns have tested the city and forced it to confront key questions about its future. Derek Blyth looks back at an extraordinary moment in our ...