On the occasion of the World Maritime Day, the Royal Belgian Shipowners’ Association (RBSA) launched the latest update of its study that examines the economic importance of shipping to Belgium.
Using key economic figures up until 2020, this 7th edition of the “Economic Impact Study on the Belgian shipping cluster”, first conducted in 2001, looks at both direct and indirect economic impact of the sector.
The conclusion reached in the publication proves that European and Belgian maritime shipping policy has thus far been a success story. In fact, the fleet of the Belgian shipowners expanded by a factor of 4.5 since 2001, which is about twice the growth rate of the world fleet.
The whole Belgian shipping cluster generated about 15,000 jobs and approximately €3.15 billion of value added in 2020 (combination of direct impact within sectors and indirect impact through subcontracting). This amounts to over 0.6% of Belgium’s GDP.
The study was initially launched more than twenty years ago to better understand which policy measures could be undertaken to address the challenges facing Belgian shipping then
stated Wilfried Lemmens, RBSA’s Managing Director, adding that “at that time, a mere 2 percent of the Belgian-controlled fleet sailed under the Belgian flag. Fast forward to 2020, this number has risen to 33 percent, with the decision-making power preserved in Belgium.”
This shows the strong impact of Belgium’s shipping policy in the past two decades in cultivating a healthy maritime climate here, that mitigates the risk of major players leaving the country, that keeps new players here, while preserving the competitiveness of the Belgian flag in Europe and worldwide, Mr. Lemmens concluded.
Finally, the report found out that between 2016 and 2020, the Belgian-controlled fleet expanded rapidly, adding 39% to its DWT. In some merchant shipping sectors, including bulk and containers, freight rates have shot up since 2019, triggering a growth of 26% in the value-added of Belgian merchant shipping by end 2020.
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