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10 reasons to invest in Belgium

Your future in Europe ... starts in Belgium.
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Welcome to 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 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.

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 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 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 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 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 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 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 long ­standing 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.