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International trade in services. A growing contribution to Belgium’s current balance

  • Cédric Duprez

    (National Bank of Belgium, Research Department)

Service activities hold an ambiguous position in the economy. Although they represent a dominant share of activity and employment, they have only a minor position in international trade. Generally speaking, trade in services has therefore attracted less interest than trade in goods in the context of competitiveness policy, and economic research has paid less attention to it. Yet despite the low gross volume of international trade in services, the services balance has grown in Belgium over the past fifteen years. Compensating in part for the deteriorating balance of trade in goods, net exports of services have gradually become the primary driver of the current account balance. Belgium’s central position in the European economic fabric is one of the main contributory factors in the good performance of Belgium’s trade in services. This has led to the development of trade and logistics services, particularly thanks to the importance of the port of Antwerp in maritime traffic. Given its central position combined with the quality of its human capital, Belgium is also the location for the headquarters of the European institutions and several multinational bodies, and that is another decisive factor in the growth of service exports. However, Belgium’s good general performance in trade in services is not seen in all service categories. In particular, services connected with information and communication technologies have not grown particularly strongly. Yet these services constitute a growth catalyst that could benefit the whole economy, and the human capital needed for such a development is available in Belgium.

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Article provided by National Bank of Belgium in its journal Economic Review.

Volume (Year): (2011)
Issue (Month): III (December)
Pages: 53-68

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Handle: RePEc:nbb:ecrart:y:2011:m:december:i:iii:p:53-68
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