Belgium belongs to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and is one of the founding members of the European Community (EC). It became a first-tier member of the Economic and Monetary Union of the European Union in January 1999. In 2006, the per capita income was $31,800. Despite the heavy industrial component, services account for 72.5% of GDP. Agriculture accounts for only 1.4% of the GDP.
About 80% of Belgium's trade is with fellow EC member states. Given this high percentage, it seeks to diversify and expand trade opportunities with non-EC countries. Belgium ranks as the 10th-largest market for the export of U.S. goods and services. If goods in transit to other European countries are excluded, Belgium still ranks as the 12th-largest market for U.S. goods.
Bilaterally, there are few points of friction with the U.S. in the trade and economic area. The Belgian authorities are, as a rule, anti-protectionist and try to maintain a hospitable and open trade and investment climate. The U.S. Government focuses its market-opening efforts on the EC Commission and larger EC member states. In addition, the EC Commission negotiates on trade issues for all member states, which, in turn lessens bilateral trade disputes with Belgium.
This modern private enterprise economy has capitalized on its central geographic location, highly developed transport network, and diversified industrial and commercial base. Industry is concentrated mainly in the populous Flemish area in the north (Flemish diamond), around Brussels and in the 2 biggest Walloon cities : Liège and Charleroi (Sillon industriel). With few natural resources, Belgium must import substantial quantities of raw materials and export a large volume of manufactures, making its economy unusually dependent on the state of world markets. About three-quarters of its trade is with other EU countries. Belgium became a charter member of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) in January 1999. The dioxin crisis - beginning in June 1999 with the discovery of a cancer-causing substance in animal feed - constituted a serious blow to the food-processing industry, both domestically and internationally. This crisis slowed down GDP growth with recovery expected in the year 2000.