Highest increase in 10 years.
In Belgium, the chemical, plastic and pharmaceutical industry created 1 400 new jobs in two years, representing the highest increase in 10 years. The creation of jobs is mainly seen in businesses with more than 100 employees and has been maintained by the pharmaceutical industry. 52% of these jobs are held by women, particularly in the industrial sector. In addition to this significant increase, the sector shows record figures in terms of its revenue, exports and spending on research and development. These key figures were presented on April 18 by the sector-based federation essencia.
A record revenue
The year 2016 has been a particularly strong year for the chemical and pharmaceutical industry. Its revenue has thus reached a new record of nearly 65 billion euros. The sector represents a quarter of the revenue generated by the manufacturing industry in Belgium. The pharmaceutical industry has especially experienced remarkable growth over these last ten years. This rise in the revenue translates into an increase in employment with 1 400 job posts being created in business within the sector during these past two years. With direct employment of almost 90 000 persons and indirect employment of 150 000, the sector is generating work for nearly a quarter million people.
Research and development at the top
Moreover, the chemical and pharmaceutical industry remains the indisputable leader in innovation with a record number of 4 billion euros in research and development spending. This number nearly doubled within the space of ten years. Material investments in installations and buildings reach the record number of 2.1 billion euros over these last ten years with an increase of 12% in relation to 2015. With exports worth 116 billion euros, that is 318 million euros per day, chemistry and life sciences remain by far the country’s first exporting sector contributing to more than 90% of the commercial balance in Belgium.
“These figures are the best evidence that the chemical and pharmaceutical sector is more than ever the pillar of the Belgian economy,” stated the managing director of essencia, Yves Verschueren. “The sector creates more than 32% of the added value of the Belgian industry and this is two times the European average. With a quarter of revenue, a third of the exports, a third of the investments and two-thirds of spending on research and development, the chemical and pharmaceutical industry is a key sector in Belgian industry and a cornerstone of our prosperity.”
The sector’s major investments build confidence in the future but the sector shows a cautious optimism. This year it expects an increase in line with the development of the European economy. To ensure long-term prosperity and employment, a strong industrial policy which reinforces the Belgian chemical and pharmaceutical industry, stimulates innovation and attracts foreign investments is necessary.