Flemish exports fell by 7.5% in March, the Flemish Government offers support to exporters

The corona crisis has brought with a big fall in exports from our region. In March Flemish exports were down 7.5% compared with March 2019. This is the biggest fall in exports since the 2008-2009 banking crisis. Meanwhile, the fall in imports was even greater, down 11.5% in March 2020 compared with the same month last year. 

The export figures come from the Flemish Prime Minister Jan Jambon (nationalist) and Flanders Investment & Trade (FIT). They are based on export and import statistics from the National Bank of Belgium (NBB). Exports to neighbouring countries saw the most pronounced fall. Exports to The Netherlands and France were down 14%, while Flemish exports to the UK were down 10%. Meanwhile, Flemish exports to Italy were down a massive 23% compared with March 2019.

The month of March was only the beginning of the corona crisis in Europe and most countries were only in lockdown for around half of the month. The National Bank forecasts that its figures for April could show a fall of 24% in exports from our region compared with April 2019. However, as yet this is still only a forecast.

Traditionally Flanders accounts for 80% of Belgian exports.

In an effort to help Flemish exporters the Flemish Government recently approved Flanders Investment and Trade’s Exit Plan and will provide 3 million euro in financial support. Amongst other things the cash will go to Flemish companies that want to strengthen their existing export activities or start exporting for the first time.

The Flemish Government will give grants to companies to enable them to take part in international trade fairs Companies participating in a trade fair within the EU will be given a grant of 5,000 euro, while those participating in a trade fair outside the EU will get 7,500 euro. Exports are extremely important for the Flemish economy with a third of jobs depending on them. 

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