Belgium

Market overview

Belgium has now moved out of strict lockdown, with the reopening of non-essential companies and retailers.

Up-to-date information on COVID-19 in Belgium, and official press conferences, can be found on News Belgium's webpage.

For more information on doing business in Belgium, visit myNZTE - our free online portal for curated, in-depth information and guidance. 


Economy and trade

According to Flemish business body Voka, COVID-19 could cost the Belgian economy €16 billion. Brussels Chamber of Commerce Beci says that more than half of the region's businesses have lost at least 75% of their turnover.

The first forecasts of the National Bank of Belgium have predicted that GDP would fall in the second quarter of 2020.

Supply chain, logistics and freight

Ports

The ports of Antwerp and Zeebrugge, major ports of entry into the EU for New Zealand goods, are operating at maximum capacity but critical functions and core processes are guaranteed.

You can see the latest port updates on the respective Zeebrugge and Antwerp websites.

Freight and logistics

Air freight in Belgium is seeing increased freight movement costs. However overall freight volumes are dropping according to Air Cargo Belgium.

Government support

The Belgian Government has taken a series of measures to help businesses suffering economic losses as a result of COVID-19. These measures continue to evolve, but up-to-date information can be found on the Federal Public Service (FPS) Economy government website here.

Belgium's measures are aimed at preserving employment and deferring tax payments from companies to provide liquidity for them. You can read more about the measures adopted on 6 March and 20 March here.

  • Increase of temporary unemployment benefits from 65% to 70%, with a time extension of three months until 30 June 2020. Each person will receive an immediate lump sum of €1,450 per month. Further information is available on the National Employment Office website.

  • Deferral of employers' social security contributions, VAT, withholding tax, and corporate income tax. Companies unable to pay due to COVID-19 can apply to defer or distribute payments. Local authorities in Belgium have been asked to freeze certain taxes at the municipal level. Information on the various tax measures is available on Belgium's FPS Finance website.

Deloitte Belgium has summarised the tax measures Belgium is taking to support businesses.

Different Belgian regions (Wallonia, Brussels-Capital, Flemish) are offering additional assistance to businesses affected by COVID-19 as set out below.

  • Wallonia – Compensation of €5,000 is granted to companies completely closed or stopped as a result of COVID-19 and in highly affected sectors such as travel. You can find out more or apply for the Walloon COVID-19 fund here (French language).

  • Flemish – Measures include a coronavirus nuisance premium (€4,000), extension of the guarantee scheme, and various tax measures. You can read about these measures on the Flemish website here (Dutch language).

  • Brussels – Compensation of €4,000 for companies that have had to close because of COVID-19, suspension of the city tax, cash support and other financial measures that you can read about here (French language).

In addition to Government measures, Belgium's four biggest banks - ING, BNP Paribas Fortis, KBC and Belfius - have all agreed to offer businesses a break with their loan repayments and to make it easier for firms to borrow if they need to.

Travel

Belgium provides guidance on travel advice by country in French or Dutch on their government website here.

Advice to exporters

In terms of immediate activity, make the safety and wellbeing of teams your priority, and invest as needed to ensure a safe and healthy working environment. Many businesses are still allowing employees to work from home where this is possible. Check in with your business partners and see how they are doing and how you might be able to support them during this time.


Additional resources

Below you can find information and contact details for other New Zealand government and international agencies regarding their response to COVID-19.

New Zealand Government agencies

Covid19.govt.nz
COVID-19 helpline for businesses
Business.govt.nz
New Zealand Customs
Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI)
New Zealand Export Credit (NZEC)
MFAT Export Helpline
MFAT Safetravel
Callaghan Innovation
Immigration
Ministry of Health
WorkSafe New Zealand
myNZTE

Global agencies

World Health Organization (WHO)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Contact NZTE

We're available to talk to you about any issues your export business is facing due to COVID-19.

For existing NZTE customers, please contact your New Zealand-based Customer Manager.

If you're unsure who to contact or haven't worked with us before, you can call NZTE on 0800 555 888 or email below and one of our Customer Advisors will help you.