The bilateral economic relations between Belgium and Vietnam have increased considerably over the past decennia. This is – amongst others – the result of Vietnam’s strong economic performance over the last decades, but also of the growing international expansion of Belgian companies.
Belgium is the 6th European trade partner of Vietnam: the volume of trade between both countries hovered around $2,2 billion in 2015 (according to Vietnamese statistics). The trade volume has been steadily increasing over the past years. With its ports and geographical centrality, its state-of-the-art transport infrastructure Belgium has become the entry gate of Vietnamese products to Europe.
As of June 20th Belgian investments in Vietnam amount up to $724 million for a total of 70 projects.
Belgian companies in Vietnam are discovering more and more opportunities in sectors such as waste management, water sanitation, and medical equipment and applications. Belgian companies hereby support Vietnam’s further development through an exchange of knowledge and skills. The Belgian Government supports these initiatives with concessional loans and other forms of financing.
Bilateral trade relations
In 2015 the bilateral trade between the European Union (EU) and Vietnam amounted up to $41,73 billion. That same year EU exports to Vietnam valued $10,43 billion. European imports of Vietnamese goods had a total value of $30,94 billion. The US and the EU are the main export markets for the South-East Asian country.
Total bilateral trade between Vietnam and Belgium expanded to $2,275 in 2015 with a trade deficit for Belgium. Belgian exports almost reached an amount of half a billion $. Within the EU Belgium is the 6th largest exporter. Seen per capita it even takes the 3rd place. Compared with 2014 Belgian exports increased by 24,9%. Import of Vietnamese goods was worth $1,779 billion in 2015. The main Belgian goods exported to Vietnam are chemicals ( 28.7% in 2015), gems and precious metals (19.1% in 2015), machinery (15.1% in 2015) and base metals (9.1% in 2015). Also Belgium’s exports of plant products, food, plastics and optical instruments is in expansion.
The main imports from Vietnam are footwear and headgear (45.5% in 2015), textiles (10.1% in 2015 ) and fur skins, leather, and products made of these materials (7.7% in 2015) as well as vegetable based products (7.6% in 2015). This makes Belgium Vietnam’s 8th biggest EU customer in 2015.
Belgium also exports services to Vietnam for an amount of around €85 million in 2014 (transport services, communication services etc.). The import of Vietnamese services into Belgium valued €40 million in that same year. The balance for services is thus in favour of Belgium.
Belgian investments in Vietnam
According to the Vietnamese Ministry of Planning and Investment, the total value of Belgian investments in Vietnam stood at $724 million for a total of 70 projects. Belgian investments in Vietnam are doing well. Belgium is proud to sport a couple of flagship projects. In 2015, AB Inbev invested in their first production unit of South-East Asia in Binh Duong. A Belgian investment in the major industrial and port zone of Dinh Vu (Hai Phong) attracts a big part of FDI in the North of Vietnam. Belgians also invested in coffee logistics (hereby also contributing to the transit of about 80% of the Vietnamese coffee destined for Europe through the Port of Antwerp). Puratos Grand-Place on the other hand contributes to the creation of higher added value in the Vietnamese cocoa sector. The representations of Belgian banks in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City play an important role in financing the activities of Belgian companies in Vietnam.
Interesting sectors for Belgium
The most promising sectors for Belgian companies are the agro-food business, urban infrastructures (waste and water management), maritime activities (dredging), logistics and green technologies.
Vietnam exports increasingly transit through Belgian ports and airports to the European market, hence allowing Belgium to strengthen its reputation as a ‘logistics hub’, in particular for agro-food products. This will only be reinforced by the recent conclusion of an EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement in 2015.
Belgian enterprises also offer their technological knowhow in the health sector. In addition, our educational institutions (higher and professional education) are getting more on more attention of Vietnamese students wishing to study abroad.