Belgium occupies a very small territory in comparison to other States, but that is not related to its Balance of Payments. Like many other small countries in Western Europe (such as Switzerland), exports and imports have a great importance in Belgian economy. Many economic studies have tried to show the relation between the size of these States and their Balance of Payments.

(The Nation)


This article will try to give a quick overview of Belgium’s Balance of Payments situation throughout the XX th century.




The composition of Belgium’s exports is closely related to its economic structure. Belgium is characterized for the production of semi-finished goods. In order to do this it needs to import raw materials and energy, which it lacks, specially since the independence of the Congo (for further information see: 1.4. BELGIAN COLONIALISM AND THE INDEPENDENCE OF THE CONGO). In terms of exportations, it exports the products it has transformed into semi-finished goods, charging for the value added through the process of transformation.

During the golden sixties, there was a recovery in the Balance of Payments. This recovery leads to a downfall due to the oil shock of 1973 in the year 1980, where it had the worst result of the period.

However, the 1980’s were very positive in terms of exports and imports. This upward trend is owed to the efforts made by the government to improve the balance of payments. In 2008, the crisis ends with this commercial growth (see graph below).

After Belgium’s incorporation to the EU, Belgium’s trade balance has changed. However, it has not changed that much in terms of numerical increases, but in terms of distribution. It now shares a more commercial relation with the EU members than it did before, but the amount of total exports and imports has not drastically changed.

Resultado de imagen de balance des paiements belge

(Actualitix, 2016)

In this graph from Actualitix, we can see the evolution of the Belgian Balance of Payments. It has had a negative balance from 1980 until 1984. However, after that it started increasing until the end of the XX th century. In the following century we can highlight the downfall in 2008 due to the Crisis of 2008, a moderate recovery in 2010, and a continuous growth path from 2014 onwards.


  1. Actualitix: https://fr.actualitix.com/pays/bel/belgique-balance-des-paiements-pib.php
  2. Kundi, I. A. (19 de May de 2017). Govt to miss exports, imports, CAD targets. Obtenido de The Nation: https://nation.com.pk/19-May-2017/govt-to-miss-exports-imports-cad-targets


Centre for Economic Policy Research. (1996). Economic Growth in Europe Since 1945.Cambridge; New York; Melbourne: Cambridge University Press


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