Today, Agoria publishes its exclusive study #ManuMatters or ‘Manufacturing Matters – Industry, a fundamental cornerstone of the Belgian economy’. For the first time ever, Agoria has compiled insights into the developments over the last few decades, the positive impact of recent policy measures, the position of the Belgian manufacturing industry with regard to neighbouring countries, the new, changing and continuous challenges, and the engagement of Agoria itself.
“The manufacturing industry drives Belgian export and wealth. Every job in the manufacturing industry creates at least one other position in a related service sector. Just under a quarter of Belgians earn their income in the manufacturing industry!” says Ben Van Roose, Head Manufacturing Industries at Agoria.
Download the study #ManuMatters
«Manufacturing Matters - 'Industry, a fundamental cornerstone of the Belgian economy'»
The most significant contribution to current employment in Belgium is made by the tech and high-tech sector represented by Agoria. Technological innovation ensures Belgian companies can stand out from the competition and translate this advantage into added value, jobs and wealth. The market share of the related services industry is constantly growing.
Ben Van Roose: “We can conclude that the manufacturing industry and its related services constantly add value to the Belgian economy. However, the share of added value in Belgium is decreasing faster than in stronger European economies, having now fallen below the European average level for added value. Since 2015 Belgium has, however, seen the positive effects of these measures to strengthen our competitive position (for example, with the tax shift and index jump), in that the market share of the manufacturing industry has remained the same or even slightly increased. The following steps in that direction are required: the eleventh hour is here, if it has not already passed.”
Depending on the sector, the COVID-19 crisis has had a major impact on the manufacturing industry and the recovery may take years. In conjunction with the University of Antwerp, Agoria held in-depth discussions with 25 managers from companies in the manufacturing industry, focused on additional challenges due to COVID-19.
Europe has come up with an unheard-of recovery plan to assist struggling industry. Agoria has also provided input to bolster the use of innovative technology to promote the green transition and thus support the manufacturing economy. Ben Van Roose: “The perennial challenges are still in place. The shortage of skilled workers is an obstacle to corporate growth. In order to attract investment, we need to continue investing in an advantageous social climate and move forward together. The well-known challenges of traffic jams and energy supply apply just as much as they used to.”
Agoria would like to see companies improve their contingency plans and resilience, to implement and boost further digitisation (robotisation, automation, etc.), to create added value, and to adapt to the technology priorities set out in the European agenda. Ben Van Roose asks governments to continue to deploy measures that provide breathing space and oxygen to our companies, and to strive towards market leadership and industry-relevant technology excellence. “The foundation of the Belgian manufacturing industry deserves to be strengthened to take better advantage of our excellence in technology”, he says.
“We therefore have a vested interest in safeguarding the competitiveness of our companies, to keep them in Belgium, but also to invest heavily in the industry to increase their productivity and innovation. Efforts to improve competitiveness should be maintained; it is essential for a recovery plan targeted on increasing productivity to be a success.” says Van Roose.
He also provides figures to back this up. “Ten thousand jobs in industry eventually result in an increase of €2.25 billion in added value. Ten thousand jobs in the construction industry increase added value by €2.1 billion, and by €1.3 billion in the market services industry. It pays off to implement economic policy that targets employment opportunities in the manufacturing industry: this is what generates the most added value.”
“Furthermore, nearly 70% of goods produced in Belgium are exported. This important added value component stimulates the Belgian economy and in turn our wealth. Forcing a level playing field in multilateral trade regulations is an absolute priority that should not result in protectionism.”
Ben Van Roose concludes with a few examples in illustration. “It is very likely that the components of your new car are developed and assembled within 100 km of your home. Or maybe agricultural machines that literally put bread on the table? Or high-tech looms used to produce your new pair of trousers? Or boiler pumps that keep you warm and ensure your home is climate-neutral, and so on. We are proud of our industry. Belgium works hard to develop and produce items that improve our lives or make them easier. The Agoria technology federation fights in the corner of each and every one of these companies and their employees. Agoria works hard to strengthen the manufacturing industry within the Belgian economic and social fabric, contributing to resolving the challenges faced by humanity.”
Is your company a manufacturing company and do you want to better understand this sector and the developments it is facing? Do you want to know the 7 transformations for Factories of the Future? To benchmark the maturity of your own company? Or to be inspired by testimonials from other companies?
Take a look on our #ManuMatters web page, which contains an overview of Agoria's various actions to stimulate the manufacturing industry and support everyone working in this sector.