21 June 2018
Russia : How are trade relations with Belgium?
With Belgian imports from Russia standing at EUR 6.86 billion in 2017, Russia comes third in the ranking of the most important non-European trading partner for Belgium.
Belgium is a very open country, exporting 85.1% of GDP in 2017 and importing 84.3%. Most of Belgium's international trade is directed towards the countries of the European Union.
Nevertheless, exports of Belgian goods and services outside Europe account for $ 120 billion in 2017, while more than one third of Belgian imports ($ 145 billion) come from outside the EU.
Russia, a strategic partner
Among the non-European partners, Russia occupies a relatively important place, despite the sanctions of 2014. For example, in terms of imports, it is Belgium’s third non-European partner after the United States and China. For Belgian exports, Russia is the fifth largest non-EU partner, behind the United States, China, India and Turkey.
The share of Russian imports in Belgium’s total goods imports was 2.5% in 2017, equivalent to 6.859 billion euros. After a drop following the introduction of sanctions in 2014, the share of Russian goods in Belgium's imports started to increase again in 2017.
The share of exported Belgian goods earmarked for Russia has been around 1% for four years, or 2.630 billion euros in 2017, with a slight upward trend since 2015.
In terms of sectoral distribution, Belgian goods exported to Russia mainly belong to the following groups of products: chemical industry products (35.7% of total Belgian goods exported to Russia), machinery and equipment (21.3%), plastics (9.9%) and transportation equipment (8.7%). Exports to Russia are therefore concentrated in a small number of sectors.
In terms of imports, Belgian imports from Russia mainly concern pearls and precious metals (41% of total Belgian imports of Russian goods), mineral products (35.8%) and metals (14.1%). All other sectors account for only 9% of the total, so imports are highly concentrated in these three sectors.
Charlotte de Montpellier, economist at ING Belgique summarizes the trade relations between Belgium and Russia.