Located in the heart of Western Europe, Belgium enjoys a key position in the European and international economy. As one of the six founding states of the European Union and home to many international organisations, Belgium has always been a prosperous marketplace, in business with countries from all over the world. Even though Belgium has a fairly recent history (founded in 1830), its colourful past and location at the crossroads of different cultures has shaped the cosmopolitan character it has today. Consisting of three regions (Brussels-Capital, Flanders and Wallonia) and three language groups (Dutch, French and German), Belgium is home to a versatile population with high purchasing power. Although small in size, Belgium has plenty to offer businesses, no matter where they come from in the world. Let’s take a quick look at why Belgium is such a great place to invest.
10 good reasons to invest in Belgium
1. Open economy
Belgian exports amount to more than 80% of national GDP. According to the latest WTO data, Belgium is the 10th largest exporting country in the world.
Belgium is a flourishing marketplace, making the most of its location in the centre of Western Europe. Hosting many international organisations, Belgium is strongly integrated with the globalised world. In the 2014 ranking of the KOF Index, calculated by the Swiss ETHZ, which measures the openness of a country by assessing the economic, political and social dimensions of globalisation, Belgium is the second most globalised country in the world.
Moreover, Belgium ranks 5th in the Ernst & Young European Attractiveness Survey for new investment projects in Europe, demonstrating that many investors have already found their way to Belgium.
2. Gateway to 500 million European consumers
Thanks to its central location in one of the most wealthy and developed regions in the world, the opportunities to export from Belgium are numerous and varied. For instance, a staggering 80% of Europe’s purchasing power lies within a radius of 500 miles (± 800 km) from Brussels.
Belgium is also renowned as a consumer test market. If a product is successfully launched in Belgium, similar success can be expected in other European markets.
Belgium is definitely your gateway to Europe and beyond.
3. Logistics springboard
Belgium’s dense interconnected transport network offers your business endless options. Whether you choose road, train, sea, waterways, air or multimodal transport, you can be sure of a highly-efficient distribution solution.
The logistics system is pported by worldclass telecommunication and Internet infrastructures. Numerous distribution centres are already established in Belgium, taking advantage of the low cost and short distance to Europe’s major markets.
Without doubt, Belgium is the number one country for logistics and distribution in Europe.
4. Access to European decision-makers
As a founding member of the European Union, Belgium has always played a decisive international role. Belgium hosts the EU and NATO, as well as numerous headquarters of multinationals and major global players.
More international organisations are located in Brussels than Washington D.C., along with about 120 international government organisations, 181 embassies, over 5,000 diplomats and more than 1,000 lobby groups.
You won’t find a permanent international presence like this anywhere else in the world, except in New York. This international presence combined with Brussels’ first-rate accessibility in the heart of Europe, makes it the number one European conference city.
5. Top-class human capital
The Belgian workforce has one of the highest productivity levels in the EU. Key factors contributing to this are the quality of the education system and the ability to speak multiple languages.
Other attractive assets are the workforce’s flexibility, versatility and eagerness to learn in changing working conditions and environments. The constructive social dialogue enhances a positive business climate. Furthermore, 35% of the labour force has at least one higher-education degree, well above the OECD average.
This pool of talented human capital can help drive your company forward. Belgium’s highly-qualified workforce certainly meets the needs of an international workplace.
6. Belgium generates and attracts brains
Belgium has 16 high-level universities. Among them, seven are listed in the Shanghai Academic Ranking of World Universities.
The strong national commitment to education makes the Belgian system one of the best for higher education and training (5th), maths and science education (3rd), management schools (2nd), and propensity for on-the-job training that contributes to an overall high capacity to innovate (10th) according to the Global Competitiveness Report 2013 - 2014.
Belgium also has excellent research institutes and the quality of university-industry collaboration is ranked 6th worldwide. Spin-offs and incubators are set up nationwide, boosted by the network of internationally-renowned university research centres. As a centre of excellence, Belgium really delivers in crucial domains such as life sciences, nanotechnology, biotechnology and renewable energy.
7. Competitive tax regime
Belgium has a unique tax regime. Numerous corporate tax deductions are available, such as notional interest and patent income, and there is a very favorable taxation system for expat employees.
Thanks to these measures, the effective corporate tax rate can be significantly lower than the nominal rate and lower than many other countries. In addition, the advanced tax ruling system provides legal certainty for investors.
Clearly, Belgium is highly competitive when it comes to company taxes.
8. Ease of setting up a business
Setting up a business in Belgium is quick and simple. It only takes four days and three start-up procedures to take off, making Belgium the fastest place in Europe to establish a business.
The Federal-Regional Liaison Unit for Foreign Investment ensures mooth cooperation between all the partners involved in supporting your investment project. Each of the three regions has its own agency to assist you with practical matters related to your investment.
9. Affordable real estate prices
Belgian cities offer less expensive real estate than neighbouring European cities and the capital, Brussels, is significantly cheaper than other international centres such as Paris, London and Frankfurt.
According to the Global Occupancy Cost Survey 2013 from Cushman & Wakefield, there is no other business city in Western Europe that offers such affordable office space as Brussels.
10. A great place to live
Belgium enjoys one of the best "quality of life" standards in Europe, according to the International Living Index. Its major assets lie in household living space, an advanced healthcare system, social services, green areas, education and the presence of many excellent international schools.
Belgium is a vivacious country with longstanding cultural traditions. World-class festivals and cultural events offer you endless opportunities to fill your social and cultural calendar.
From the Ardennes hills to the north Sea, the wide variety of landscapes provides great opportunities for enjoying nature. With a tradition of fine food and more multiple-star restaurants per square kilometre than anywhere else in Europe, Belgium also offers visitors a delightful eating and dining-out experience. Last but not least, Belgian people are convivial and social; they love getting together on a café terrace to enjoy life.
- Head of state : HM King Philippe
- Government : Federal parliamentary democracy & constitutional monarchy
- Capital : Brussels
- Population : 11,035,948
- Languages : Dutch, French, German
- Surface : 30,528 km²
- GDP : 402 bn €
- Exports : 85% of GDP
- Export products : value added logistics, chemicals & plastics, life sciences, agrifood, ICT – software development, aeronautics & space, textiles & fashion, industrial automation & mechatronics, automotive, building & engineering,clean technologies, and creative industries.
Belgium at a glance
"Belgium at a glance" is a digital brochure providing a light overview of what our country is all about. The brochure is richly illustrated with photos, making it highly accessible to anyone who wants to find out more about Belgium.
The brochure is available in:
Focus on Belgium
Today, in his opening address of the diplomatic days, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Didier Reynders has launched a new website: Focus on Belgium. As indicated in the baseline ‘people, stories, facts and figures’, this new site is meant to highlight our country’s strengths in numerous areas, e.g. our creativity, diversity, new talents and established values, developments and possibilities.
To achieve this, not only the articles – forming the main part of the site – but also a variety of events and well-known Belgians are brought to the visitor’s attention. Besides, all kinds of petty facts about Belgium or about Belgian achievements can be found under the heading ‘did you know?’. Finally, the website contains statistical information about Belgium, a photo gallery as well as a film section.
The new website is part of the FPS Foreign Affairs’ strategy to further develop its public diplomacy. It is meant to support our Embassies and Consulates abroad in their promotion of Belgium, as well as to inform the general public on what’s happening in Belgium and what our country has to offer in several respects. On this trilingual website (in Dutch, French and English), new items will be published every week, which can also be shared via social media.
Yet, this new site is only a starting point. In time, the FPS will use it for drawing up a Focus on Belgium newsletter our missions abroad can use in their communication.
All institutions, organizations and persons who have news or information that could be suitable for Focus on Belgium, can contribute to the site by sending a text, photographs and/or pictures to email@example.com
How innovative is your country? - European Innovation Scoreboard 2016
The European Commission has released the 2016 results of the European Innovation Scoreboard, the Regional Innovation Scoreboard and the Innobarometer.
The main findings are that EU innovation is catching up with Japan and the US, Sweden is once again the innovation leader, and Latvia has become the fastest growing innovator. Belgium is the leader in "Innovation networks & collaboration".
• Federal Public Service Economy
• Federal Public Service Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation
• Federal Public Service Finance
• Brussels Capital Region : Brussels Invest & Export
• Flanders Region : Flanders Investment & Trade
• Wallonia Region : Wallonia Export-Investment Agency