BMI View: Belgium ' s freight transport sector will see further growth in 2015 in line with the country ' s economic outlook, with the country ' s GDP forecast to increase by 1.0% in real terms. Air freight is expected to outperform, helped by projected strong growth in Belgium ' s pharmaceutical export sector, while other modes will also continue steady growth, aided by improving household consumption and demand for the country ' s exports. Road freight will continue dominating the sector in terms of overall freight volumes.
Belgium's real GDP growth, according to BMI forecasts, will continue at a pace similar to the one seen in 2014, with an increase of around 1.0% expected in 2015. Over the medium term (2015-2019) we forecast the economy will expand by an annual average of 1.4%. These factors contribute to our positive view with regards to Belgium's medium term trade outlook and so the potential for growth within Belgium's freight transport sector. A strengthening economy will support consumer demand for imported goods, and continued high production levels for key export items, particularly manufactured goods, will serve to boost freight volumes over the medium term.
For Belgium's road freight sector BMI forecasts continued growth in 2015, at a y-o-y rate similar to 2014. The country's steady economic recovery will be the key driver for growth in this sector. Over the medium term we project the volumes of freight carried by road in Belgium to expand by an annual average of 2.1%. With unemployment coming down over the medium term, while lower oil prices and persistently low inflation are supporting household consumption, demand for consumer goods will increase and benefit the road haulage sector.
Belgium's rail freight sector will see a moderate growth in the short term before gradually accelerating over the medium term. Belgium's rail freight volumes are forecast to increase at an annual average growth rate of 2.2%. Steel and motor vehicle production are two of the major drivers of Belgium's rail freight volumes. Belgium's steel sector is starting to enter a period of relative stability. Having witnessed significant declines over recent years, we are now beginning to see production levels stabilising. Motor vehicle production, another driver of rail freight, with Belgium mostly assembling vehicles, is forecast to resume its decline in 2015 and so the strength of rail freight growth over the medium term will be weaker than that witnessed in the previous five years.
The country's air freight is set to offer the strongest growth opportunities out of all the freight modes in 2015. Belgium boasts a well developed air freight sector, and the country, as in other freight modes, has expanded beyond catering for domestic demand to become a European hub for air freight, offering global connections. A major driver of this growth is due to the pharmaceutical sector, with Belgium's pharmaceutical exports forecast to post double-digit growth in 2015, supporting our growth outlook for the country's air freight volumes. Over the medium term (2015-2019) we forecast Belgium's air freight volumes to continue increasing steadily, posting an annual growth of 3.5% on average.
Key BMI Forecasts
We forecast total road freight volumes will rise by 1.6% year on year over 2015 to reach 310.0mn tonnes.
We forecast total rail freight volumes will rise by 1.3% year on year over 2015 to reach 57.2mn tonnes.
We forecast total air freight volumes will rise by 2.5% year on year over 2015 to reach 1.0mn tonnes.
We forecast total trade value to fall by 15.0% to reach USD752,395.8mn in 2015.
The top five import partners are the Netherlands, Germany, France, US and the UK and the top five export partners are Germany, France, the Netherlands, the UK and US.