A macro-economic analysis of the activity of multinational groups is of particular interest for economic policy in a country like Belgium with a longstanding tradition of openness to foreign investment. This working paper combines a database of enterprise groups that are active in Belgium with industry-level data from the national accounts to show that multinational groups play an important role in the Belgian economy. Together, foreign affiliates and firms that are part of a Belgian multinational group account for more than 40% of GDP, 25% of total employment and 75% of exports.
This paper presents an estimation of employment sustained directly and indirectly by exports based on an export-heterogeneous input-output table. In this table, manufacturing industries are disaggregated according to the exporter status of firms in order to account for within-industry differences in input structures. According to our results, export-sustained employment in Belgium amounted to 1.32 million jobs in 2010, which corresponds to 29.5 % of total employment.
For a finer analysis of competitiveness and value chain integration, this working paper presents a micro-data based breakdown of manufacturing industries in the 2010 Belgian supply-and-use and input-output tables into export-oriented and domestic market firms. The former are defined as those firms that export at least 25% of their turnover. Analyses based on the resulting export-heterogeneous IOT reveal differences between the two in terms of input structures and import behaviour: export-oriented manufacturers have lower value-added in output shares, and they import proportionally more of the intermediates they use. Moreover, exports of export-oriented manufacturers generate a substantial amount of value added in other Belgian firms, in particular providers of services. The policy implication of these results is that Belgium’s external competitiveness depends not only on exporters but also on firms that mainly serve the domestic market. To maximise the impact of export promotion in terms of domestically generated value added, the entire value chain for the production of exports must be taken into account.
Offshoring has since long been a matter of concern in developed countries and has recently received growing attention in the economic literature. The aim of this paper is to provide a critical review of definitions of offshoring that have been put forward in recent years, thereby updating the definitions in earlier publications of the Federal Planning Bureau. We also take a closer look at how offshoring can be measured. In the absence of individual firm data, we focus on indirect trade-based measures of offshoring, compare them and present results for Belgium that show an upward trend in offshoring.