The German model continues to attract envious glances from this bank of the Rhine. However there is now a debate in France, where the model to adopt is… Belgian and, more specifically, Walloon.
It all began with an opinion piece by the head of the Ecole supérieure de commerce de Dijon (Dijon School of Commerce) on the French website of the Huffington Post: Belgium has carried off the feat of overcoming all its institutional and economic handicaps (exchange rate, energy prices, size of businesses, public debt and extended crises) and achieving a positive external trade balance, whereas last year France sunk below the sorry record of 2008.
We should not also that Wallonia exports more than it imports – 44 billion to 31 billion – while Flanders is in deficit, as is the Brussels region.
The country’s assets include easy access to many European markets: France, Germany and the Netherlands between them account for half of all Belgian exports, which compensates in part for the strong euro.
Belgium also relies on specialisation: organic and plastic chemistry, pharmaceuticals, petroleum products, motor vehicles and diamonds. These are the key sectors where the country concentrates its energy.
The country also has the advantage of producing products locally rather than in low-wage European countries, and it has successfully concentrated on high value-added production and promoting innovation.
Le Soir – 28 March 2012