— Full 2021 UK – Flanders export figures released by Flanders Investment & Trade& Investment
— Record high in 2021 for total Flanders exports as Flanders maintains its status as a key partner and powerhouse for commerce in Europe for UK businesses
— Strong recovery in UK exports to Flanders following 15.8% fall in 2020 post-Brexit but some sectors continue to struggle
— More uncertain road ahead in 2022 as businesses navigate further post-Brexit measures in 2022 and uncertain global outlook
BRUSSELS, March 29, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Flanders Investment & Trade, the official government body for the Flanders region, has published its full-year trade figures for 2021, which reveal that UK exports to Flanders are showing signs of recovery from their post-Brexit decline but some sectors continue to struggle.
While UK exports to Flanders initially slumped by 15.8% in 2020 following the UK’s formal departure from the EU, UK exports to the region increased by a significant 18% in 2021 to a total value of €14,398,848,000. However, the outlook for 2022 looks more uncertain as UK businesses navigate new and far-reaching post-Brexit measures and global geo-political uncertainty.
Flanders, the northern region of Belgium, has since established itself as an important gateway to the European single market for UK businesses following Brexit in January 2020. Many UK sectors, including precious stones and metals and jewelry (+169%) and plastics and plastic items (+70.96%) have seen exports to Flanders grow during 2021. In the food and drink sector, while meat and fish have seen a decline in exports, milk and dairy products have seen a 20% increase.
In January 2021, Flanders announced record levels of investment from UK companies in the region. There has been a 63.33% increase in British companies investing in Flanders in 2021 vs 2020, the fourth consecutive annual increase. Many UK businesses have chosen to set up a base in the region as a strategic single-entry point to export to other EU countries, due to Flanders’ excellent transport connections and location in the heart of Europe’s commercial and industrial centres.
Despite the overall improvement in exports to Flanders in 2021, some sectors of the UK economy have continued to see a decline in exports to Flanders, including the automotive sector (-11%) and the textiles sector, with clothing and accessories down 41.3%. However, these sectors have also been impacted by the pandemic and other global manufacturing trends.
Astrid Geeraerts, Head of Investment at Flanders Investment & Trade (FIT) commented; «While Brexit immediately disrupted business on both sides of the Channel in 2020, British entrepreneurship has won out and exports to Flanders are recovering.
«FIT has been actively supporting many UK businesses, with our partners in both Flanders and the UK, to help businesses navigate the many challenges that Brexit has presented to exporters to the EU over the past two years. We’re proud that so many UK businesses are successfully exporting to customers in Flanders and Europe following Brexit.»