Country profile - Distinguishing factors (Belgium)
Belgium's economic strength is based on its geographic position at the crossroads of Western Europe, its highly skilled and educated workforce, and its participation in the EU.
Belgium's economic strength is based on its geographic position at the crossroads of western Europe, its highly skilled and educated workforce, and its participation in the EU. During its industrial period, Belgium developed a highly efficient and capable transportation infrastructure that included roads, ports, canals, and railways. The multilingual nature of the workforce and its industriousness has made the workforce one of the most productive in the world.
Belgium has a very open economy, situated at the heart of a zone of intense economic activity. Exports of goods and services represent 92,1 % (2008) of GDP and imports nearly 92,8 %(2008). The Belgian economy is currently dominated by the service sectors. The importance of the manufacturing industries has gradually declined over the last 30 years.
With few natural resources, Belgium must import substantial quantities of raw materials and export a large volume of manufactures, making its economy unusually dependent on the state of world markets. More than three-quarters of its trade is with other EU countries. Public debt is 89.8 % of GDP (2008). After a long period of decline (133,6 % in 1993) public debt is rising again due to the financial crisis. Income distribution is relatively equal. Belgium began circulating the euro in January 2002.