November 23, 2010World Marketsby EconomyWatch

Belgium Market

Belgium or the Kingdom of Belgium is a highly developed market economy is one of the members of the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) countries. It is also one of the founding or core members of the European Union (EU) hosting its headquarters in the capital city of Brussels. Belgium is also one of the members of the NATO . Belgium Market follows a free market system organized along the capitalistic lines. The Index of Economic Freedom analyses the Belgium economy as 74.5% free as in 2007, thus placing it as the 17 th freest economy of the world. As a modern Western economy, Belgium scores highly in the issues of Investment Freedom, Property Rights, Business Freedom and Monetary Freedom . Business Freedom is the highest among Belgium's ten economic freedoms pegged at 90.8% according to recent estimates of 2007 . Trade Freedom is pegged at 76.6% with Investment and Monetary Freedom at 90% and 80% respectively. Index of Labour Freedom is however pegged at 70.5%. Belgium's economy is reliant on services, transportation, trade and the industrial sector concentrated on heavy machinery and industrial equipment. Steady growth over the past decade has helped Brazil maintain relatively high living standards where high-incomes of its labor reflect the high productivities.

Some of the key Belgium Markets are :

Money and Capital Markets : The Brussels Stock Exchange (BSE) is the most important stock exchange in Belgium and on September 22, 2000 BSE merged with Paris Bourse and the stock exchanges of Amsterdam to give rise to Euronext N.V, the first pan-European exchange for equities and derivatives and was later renamed to Euronext Brussels . The most popular index on the exchange is BEL 20 . The Anglo-Saxon have always had the tradition of allocating the financial means through the financial markets and the deregulation of the financial markets to increase their competition have been the norm in the European economies. The Belgian banking system plays an important central role in the economy; however modernization and reorganization have also occurred within this sector. This has been facilitated by the further development of the ISABEL (Interbank Standards Association Belgium) system in 1998 .

Labor Market : The social security system in Belgium has expanded rapidly through the 1950's and the 1960's and the present system includes a medical coverage, unemployment insurance coverage, child allowances and other benefits and pension schemes. According to the latest estimates of 2005, Belgium had a relatively high unemployment rate of 8.4% . However, the problem for the Belgian economy has been the low participation of the working-age population into the workforce. Labor market reforms are even more essential with the ageing of the population, although employment of older workers remains low by international standards. However, government policies have prompted the employment of labor to increase since 2004, but the unemployment persists with the geographical differences in the unemployment rates.

Agriculture : The country has well-watered soil although agriculture engages only a small portion of the population. Apart from the chief agricultural crops such as wheat, oats, rye, barley and potatoes, cattle raising is also an important occupation. Processed foods include beet sugar and cheese and also various other dairy products. However, foodstuffs, food grains, fuels and chemical products are mainly on the import list. Total imports according to 2006 estimates amounted to $ 333.5 billion with Netherlands being the prime source of imports totaling 17.8% of the total imports.

Industry : Exports include iron and steel, transportation equipment, tractors, diamonds (Antwerp is a major diamond cutting centre) and petroleum products. Other industries include cement and glass production and processing of leather and wood. Belgium is heavily dependent on nuclear power with over 75% of its electricity generated from nuclear power. However, the Belgian economy is dependent on imports for most of the raw materials used in industries . Imports include iron while nonferrous metal products such as zinc, copper, lead and tin are also made from imported raw materials. According to 2006 estimates, exports of industrial products accounted for $335.3 billion. Germany was the most favored export destination with 19.4% of the total exports reaching that country.

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