Belgian Economic Mission to Norway #BEmissionNOR
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About Belgium

 

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 Communities (the Flemish, the French and the German-speaking Community), 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.

1. Open Economy

Belgian exports of goods and services amount to more than 95% of national GDP.  According to the latest WTO data, Belgium is the 8th 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 fact, according to the KOF Index, which measures the openness of a country by assessing the economic, political and social dimensions of globalisa­tion, Belgium is the 3rd most globalised country in the world. Moreover, Belgium ranks 9th 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 supported by world­ class 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 decisionmakers

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, 184 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. Topclass Human Capital

The Belgian workforce has one of the highest productivity levels in the EU. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), productivity in Belgium is on average even 12% higher than OECD top-performers. 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 attracts and generates brains

Belgium has 11 high-­level universities. Among them, nine are listed in the Shanghai Academic Ranking of World Universities. Spin­offs 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. Highlighting its continued investment in human capital development, Belgium spends 6.23% of GDP on education, one of the highest shares among OECD countries. As of 2023, the international performance of the Belgian education system continues to demonstrate strength across various metrics. According to the latest data, Belgian students rank consistently above the OECD average in reading, mathematics, and science in assessments such as the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). Participation in lifelong learning has also increased, with approximately 10% of adults aged 25-64 engaging in education or training activities, surpassing the OECD average.

7. Competitive tax regime

Belgium offers a competitive tax regime, attracting businesses and investors with its favorable policies. The corporate tax rate in Belgium is 25%, which is relatively competitive compared to other European countries. Additionally, Belgium provides various tax incentives and deductions to encourage investment and innovation, such as tax credits for research and development activities. The country has a well-established network of double taxation treaties, providing certainty and favorable tax treatment for international businesses operating in Belgium. Additionally, the country's central location within Europe makes it an attractive hub for multinational corporations seeking to access the European market while benefiting from Belgium's competitive tax environment. Overall, Belgium's competitive tax regime plays a significant role in attracting investment, fostering economic growth, and maintaining its position as a business-friendly destination. 

8. Ease of setting up a business

Setting  up a business  in  Belgium  is  quick and simple. It only takes four days and three start­up procedures to take off, making Bel­gium the fastest place in Europe to establish a business. The Federal Regional Liaison Unit for Foreign Investment ensures smooth 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

Belgian cities offer less expensive real estate than neighboring European cities and the capital, Brussels, is significantly cheaper than other international centres such as Paris, Lon­don and Frankfurt. Brussels presents a favorable balance between quality and affordability in its office space market, making it an attractive choice for companies seeking a European base. The Belgian government also offers incentives and support programs, thereby attracting domestic and international businesses to establish and expand their operations in the country.

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. World­class 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.

Key Facts

  • Head of state: HM King Philippe
  • Government: Federal parliamentary democracy & constitutional monarchy
  • Capital: Brussels
  • Population: 11,754,004
  • Languages: Dutch, French, German
  • Surface: 30,528 km2
  • GPD: 554bn € (2022)
  • Exports: 95% of GPD
  • Leading Industries: 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.
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