A study by the Belgian Foreign Trade Agency reveals that following the health crisis, the productivity of the pharmaceutical sector, particularly companies based in Wallonia, has enabled Belgium to take 10th place in the ranking of the world's largest exporters.
With a vast ecosystem of 29 of the world's top 30 companies based here, Belgium has an excellent reputation worldwide in drug and vaccine research and in the pharmaceutical sector as a whole.
Wallonia is not to be outdone, as the sector represents more than 36% of its exports and 50,000 direct and indirect jobs. The Region has ten leaders based in its territory, some of which have made significant contributions to the fight against the pandemic, such as Takeda, GSK, and Thermo Fisher Scientific.
Wallonia is also a key player in the sector, with a vibrant ecosystem of biotech and medtech companies, particularly in biologics, with the presence of giants such as GSK Biologicals, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer and Baxter.
To further its attractiveness by having qualified personnel available for companies in the sector wanting to set up in our Region, Wallonia fervently supports the project for a training centre specialising in biotech, the "EU Biotech School & Health Hub", which will open at the Gosselies Biopark by 2025.
As the crisis had a particularly significant impact on trade in the second and third quarters of 2019, our country's total merchandise exports fell by 7.9% on an annual basis, while imports fell by 9.3%. Belgium ranks fifth in the European Union for both exports and imports, with a market share of 7.7% in both cases.
The study also reflects the impact on exports to neighbouring countries: exports to the Netherlands, Germany, France and the United Kingdom, which accounted for half the total in 2020, fell by €21.9 billion. Outside Europe, the American continent has become the main export destination for Belgian goods, ahead of Asia.