The densely populated state of Belgium is located at the heart of one of the world's most highly industrialized regions. Being the first country to undergo an industrial revolution in Europe in the early 1800s, Belgium developed an excellent transportation infrastructure of ports, canals, railways, and highways to integrate its industry with that of its neighbors.
With a geographic area about equal to the state of Maryland, and a population of 10.8 million, Belgium’s per capita GDP ranks among the world’s highest. In 2010, the per capita income (PPP) was $37,900, with a growth rate of 2.1%.
Belgium is a highly competitive market. There are between 20 and 30 Belgian importers distributing musical instruments, parts, and accessories. In 2010, there were nearly 400 retail stores. Significant opportunities exist in various niche segments, particularly with a strong Euro. U.S. exporters will need to focus on innovation and quality in addition to offering competitive prices.
Musical instruments are generally distributed via Belgian importers/distributors or through direct sale to retail shops. On the retail level, specialty shops maintaining their own repair shops and providing good service are very important to customers.
In 2009, Belgium imported musical instruments and accessories from the U.S. worth $4.05 million. Import duties for musical instruments, parts, and accessories imported from the United States vary from 1.7 to 4%. VAT (Value-Added-Tax) of 21% is levied on goods imported into Belgium or made in Belgium. VAT is applicable at each stage of the distribution process. VAT is finally paid by the end user, so all those at an earlier stage of distribution can recover the cost.