Walloon exports: the highest growth since 2011 11/12/2017

With a sum never achieved in just one half-year (€20.9 billion), in comparison to the first six months of 2016, Walloon exports benefited from an 8.8% increase for the period from January to June 2017.

It is the highest half-yearly growth rate shown by Walloon overseas sales since 2011. This excellent result from January to June 2017 clearly confirms that Walloon foreign trade is continuing its recovery.

In terms of benchmarking, the very good figures for our foreign trade over the first six months of 2017 (+8.8%) enable Wallonia to exceed average growth (+7.5%) for exports in the regions which make up our comparative panel, namely Flanders, Germany, the Netherlands, France and the Euro19 zone.  On an individual level, from January to June, Wallonia was ahead of the export results for the Euro19 zone (+7.7%), Germany (+6.1%) and France (+3.5%). Only the Netherlands (+12.6%) and Flanders (+11.3%) performed better than Wallonia in the first half-year of 2017.

Firstly, the results for regional exports are related to their strong progress among the EU-28 (+12.7%). This is the highest level of growth since 2010. Among our 10 main commercial partners in Europe, our sales developed very well in France (+10.8%), Germany (+10.6%) and the Netherlands (+10.1%), our first three foreign clients, as well as Spain (+37.1%), Poland (+32.2%), Italy (+26.0%), Sweden (+18.8%) and Austria (+12.7%).  For these eight countries, which represent more than 60% of our foreign trade, these rates of progress are the highest for our exporters for many years.

Outside the EU-28 zone, Walloon exports decreased by 4.4% in the first half-year of 2017, which brings to an end three years of uninterrupted growth for our sales in so-called "large-scale export" regions. Despite the promising international climate, the rise in the value of the euro with regard to the main global currencies since the start of the year has no doubt been a handicap for the competitiveness-price of Walloon products on extra-continental markets. This factor has been particularly significant with North America (-17.2%). However, it should be noted that exports increased in Latin America (+12.6%), Central and Eastern Europe (+42%) and more modestly in the Far East (+ 0.2%).   

On a sectoral level, the export of chemical and pharmaceutical industry products show exceptional growth in the first half-year of 2017 (+23.5%), which represents their highest level of growth since 2009 and allows them to easily consolidate their position as the leading Walloon export sector (33.1% of the total). This mainly reflects the spectacular 30.1% progress of Walloon pharmaceutical product sales on global markets, which monopolises 70% of chemical product exports and 20% of the Walloon total.

In the top 10 of Walloon exports over the first six months, note should also be made of the excellent results (27.7%) for exports in common metals and works in these metals after a two-year decline.