2020 should have been a promising year with good growth prospects for the construction sector in Belgium. However, a Coronavirus changed the world at the beginning of 2020 and also had an impact on the Belgian construction sector. The sector’s economic activity declined by 7.5 percent last year. Even though the construction sector expects economic growth of 8 percent in 2021, it does not expect to be back to the economic level of before the corona crisis until 2022, is stated in a press release of the Belgian Brick and Tile Industry Association.
The brick sector showed its resilience. Total brick production in Belgium amounted to 2 437 00 tons. 929 000 tons of bricks for ordinary masonry and 1 508 000 tons of facing bricks were produced. The production of brick slips continued to grow in 2020 to 638 000 m².
Exports amounted to 862 684 tons, which is about 35 % of the total production. The export figures are compiled on the basis of a survey of members and data from the NBB. Exports mainly took place to neighbouring countries. The United Kingdom was the most important export country for facing brick in 2020.
Imports increased compared to last year, reaching 206 377 tons. Imports amount to approximately 8.5 % of Belgian production (source : NBB-National Bank of Belgium).
The permits for new homes are an indicator for the future. More renovation permits were issued in Belgium last year than in 2019. The number of licensed renovations of residential buildings in Belgium increased by 6 %. The number of permits for new-build homes decreased by 1 % compared to 2019 (source: STATBEL).
European Green Deal as an opportunity and a challenge
Construction is an important instrument behind the recovery as an important lever for the economy as a whole. Specifically for the construction sector, measures to encourage new construction, demolition and reconstruction, renovation or public works can contribute to this. It is important to take maximum advantage of the opportunities offered by the European Green Deal via the European Recovery Fund.
The activities of the Belgian Brick Federation continued to focus in 2020 on the activities that are extremely important for our industry branch. During the year 2020, Steenbakkerij Van Membruggen has joined the Belgian Brick Federation.
There are, of course, many challenges to face in the sector. The European Green Deal is an important framework in the recovery, but also includes a trajectory towards a climate neutral Europe in 2050. This trajectory will require efforts from the sector but also offer opportunities, according to the Belgian Brick and Tile Industry Association. For Europe, it is the momentum for investments in a future-proof built environment in Belgium and Europe.
Bricks for ordinary
Bricks for “ordinary masonry” include both solid bricks and perforated bricks. These bricks are used for masonry of interior walls. The production of brick for ordinary masonry amounted to 929 000 tons. This concerns the production of perforated bricks. Solid bricks were not produced in 2020.
The total production of facing bricks amounted to 1 508 241 tons. In 2020, 227 547 tons of extruded facing bricks and 1 280 694 tons of hand-moulded bricks were produced.
An extensive range of brick slips is available in the sector, produced according to different production processes. In 2020, the production of brick slips continued to increase to 638 226 m².