Belgium occupies a major position in the construction sector in Europe, for two main reasons. First, Belgium has one of the highest private property ownership rates in the EU. Second, since Belgium is situated at the heart of the European Union, many multinational firms and other international organizations have set up offices and production facilities locally. These have boosted industrial construction as well as public construction and infrastructure.
The Belgian construction industry, valued at EUR 67.7 billion in 2012, recorded year-on-year growth of 3.91%, However the construction output slowed from 7.1% in 2011 to 1.6% in 2012, as the Belgian economy contracted. Although the Belgian construction industry has proved more resilient than those in neighbouring countries, many companies went bankrupt.
Residential construction was the largest construction market and comprised a 48.9% share of the total construction industry value. Belgium recorded a housing price boom from 2000 to the first-half of 2008, driven by strong economic and income growth, low interest rates and increased competition among banks with regards to supplying credit. Since then prices have remained stable but unlike other European countries, such as Spain and Ireland, strong housing price increases did not give rise to a building boom.
Marginal economic growth is projected for 2013. This combined with rising unemployment, low consumer confidence, and a tight credit market means that the housing market will remain subdued over the year. The market is expected to rebound in 2014 driven by an improvement in the economic environment, strong housing demand, low interest rates and moderate household debt.
The construction market is vast and is split into three main sectors: residential, non-residential and civil engineering. The construction market also involves many different players including architects, building companies, materials, wood & equipment providers and trade partners
Figures for building permits usually give a good idea about how the market evolves. In 2012, for the first time since 2008 when figures went down due to the crisis, the demand for building permits for new residential buildings has increased. This does not apply to renovation of residential buildings nor for new builds or renovation of non-residential buildings.
Interest in collaboration with architects who offer expertise not available in Belgium.
Sustainable building products.
Products which will lead to energy savings (e.g. insulation), for which the utility suppliers are offering subsidies.
Specialist building products and techniques to improve building procedures.
The best route to market can be either direct supply to the major contractors or through an importer/distributor of building products.
Getting into the market
Belgium is a highly competitive growing market with opportunities for international trade, especially for small and medium sized businesses. The Belgian market places a high premium on factors such as design, quality, delivery, and after sales service.
British companies wishing to enter and / or develop their business in the Belgian market are advised to undertake as much market research and planning as possible.
There are few barriers to entry with Belgium being a multilingual country with numerous cultural and business links to the UK.
Market intelligence is critical when doing business overseas, and UKTI can provide bespoke market research and support during overseas visits though our chargeable Overseas Market Introduction Service (OMIS).
To commission research or for general advice about the market, get in touch with our specialists in country – or contact your local international trade team.
Nadine Vandenbroucke, British Embassy Brussels. Tel: + 32 2 287 62 33 or email: Nadine.firstname.lastname@example.org
UKTI runs a range of events for exporters, including seminars in the UK, trade missions to overseas markets and support for attendance at overseas trade shows.
Date: 23-24 April 2015
Date: 20 February – 02 March 2014