Luxembourgh Times

One in four Luxembourg jobs relies on exports outside EU

Most of what counts as "exports" is administrative work done for foreign clients

Kirchberg, one of Luxembourg's main business districts

Kirchberg, one of Luxembourg's main business districts © Photo credit: Shutterstock

Exports outside the European Union support more jobs in Luxembourg than in any other country in the bloc, though much of it is because of administrative work that is harder to picture than sending nuts and bolts abroad.

Take the example of a real estate management company in Luxembourg, which employs a handful of staff. It is enough for these jobs to be counted as being "supported" by exports if that property manager rents out a factory in Poland to a local company that exports goods outside the EU.

Another example would be if a Luxembourg corporate entity books exports from a company or factory in another EU country to places outside the EU - for instance through sales and distribution, a Eurostat spokeswoman said.

Similar arrangements, including in financial service and insurance, mean that EU exports support some 110,000 jobs in Luxembourg, statistics agency Eurostat said in a recent report. It is roughly a quarter of the total labour market, the highest percentage among all other EU countries.

Luxembourg is home to the world's second-largest fund management centre, which offers administrative services to the fund industry in places outside the EU such as London or the US. And while the work takes place in Luxembourg, it is done on behalf of foreign clients - meaning it counts as exports.

Exports from the EU to other regions supported some 30 million jobs in EU, Eurostat said this month. Ireland, like Luxembourg home to an outsized financial centre, benefits the second-most, with 23% of jobs depending on exports. The lowest was Croatia at just above 9%.

The World Trade Organization defines such exports as providing services by banks, insurance companies, funds or brokerages, to clients of another country. The US, the UK and Switzerland are the EU's largest trading partners in financial services, according to Eurostat.

In most other European countries, export-supported jobs depend mostly on the manufacturing sector. But in Luxembourg, administrative and financial services take up the best part. Even air freight company Cargolux - which may carry goods outside Europe - falls under transport services.

"Greece, Cyprus, Luxembourg and Malta were exceptions as manufacturing was not one of the two industries with the highest level of export-supported employment", Eurostat said in its analysis.

Financial services exports from Luxembourg posted a growth of 17% last year, mainly in the funds business, according to national statistic bureau Statec, in an April note authored together with the Luxembourg Central Bank.

On top of all the white-collar work, Luxembourg also exports steel, iron, machinery, rubber products and chemicals, home to plants from tyre manufacturer Goodyear and steel giant ArcelorMittal. Manufacturing accounts for some 5% of the country's GDP, according to OECD data.

When looking at exports to all other countries - including those in the EU - a full 60% of jobs in Luxembourg rely on exports, far above the EU average of 28%, according to OECD data.