Foreign Direct Investment in Belgium

Overview by

FDI in Figures

Belgium figures among the countries most attractive to foreign direct investment (FDI). In its annual World Investment Report, the UNCTAD (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development) puts Belgium ahead of emerging economies such China, India and Russia, as well as established powers such as Canada and Hong Kong. Nevertheless, the recession has had a strong impact on the Belgian economy, which depends heavily on the countries of the European Union. FDI flows have dried up in 2009-2010 and are unlikely to recover their pre-crisis level soon.

Among the attractions of Belgian economy are: its strategic geographical position, at the crossroads of the main European markets; its high-quality transport, logistics and telecommunications infrastructure; its businesses specialized in the supply of intermediate and semi-finished goods; its multilingual and qualified workforce and a strong purchasing power.


Country Comparison For the Protection of Investors

  Belgium OECD United States Germany
Index of Transaction Transparency* 8.0 6.0 7.0 5.0
Index of Manager’s Responsibility** 6.0 5.2 9.0 5.0
Index of Shareholders’ Power*** 7.0 6.8 9.0 5.0
Index of Investor Protection**** 7.0 6.0 8.3 5.0

Source: Doing Business

Note: *The Greater the Index, the More Transparent the Conditions of Transactions. **The Greater the Index, the More the Manager is Personally Responsible. *** The Greater the Index, the Easier it Will Be For Shareholders to Take Legal Action. **** The Greater the Index, the Higher the Level of Investor Protection.

Foreign Direct Investment 2007 2008 2009
FDI Inward Flow (million USD) 118,403 109,956 33,782
FDI Stock (million USD) 810,944 671,084 830,101
Performance Index*, Ranking on 141 Economies 6 4 28
Potential Index**, Ranking on 141 Economies 18 15 -
Number of Greenfield Investments*** 210 182 101
FDI Inwards (in % of GFCF****) 118.9 96.3 109.0
FDI Stock (in % of GDP) 176.9 132.9 177.2

Source: UNCTAD

Note: * The UNCTAD Inward FDI Performance Index is Based on a Ratio of the Country's Share in Global FDI Inflows and its Share in Global GDP. ** The UNCTAD Inward FDI Potential Index is Based on 12 Economic and Structural Variables Such as GDP, Foreign Trade, FDI, Infrastructures, Energy Use, R&D, Education, Country Risk. *** Green Field Investments Are a Form of Foreign Direct Investment Where a Parent Company Starts a New Venture in a Foreign Country By Constructing New Operational Facilities From the Ground Up. **** Gross Fixed Capital Formation (GFCF) Measures the Value of Additions to Fixed Assets Purchased By Business, Government and Households Less Disposals of Fixed Assets Sold Off or Scrapped.

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Why You Should Choose to Invest in Belgium

Strong Points
Belgium's strong points are:
- A highly educated, productive, multilingual and flexible workforce;
- Quality business infrastructures;
- The country's strategic location at the center of Europe;
- A tradition openness to international trade; and
- Good quality of life.
Weak Points
Belgium's weak points are:
- High cost of salaries;
- A damaged financial system.
Government Measures to Motivate or Restrict FDI
The Belgian government recently introduced the notional interest. This is a new and innovative measure in the field of international tax law, by which all companies subject to Belgian corporate tax will be able to deduct from their taxable income an amount equal to the interest they would have paid on their capital in the case of long-term debt financing. In addition, the 0.5% registration fee on capital contributions has been abolished. For more information on the notional interest and investing in Belgium, please go to Invest in Belgium.

With regard to the financial crisis, the outcome from the authorities was quick, with the hardening of lending conditions on the inter-banking market.  Nevertheless, the Belgian government will develop and implement withdrawal strategies later, aimed at avoiding having the state hold a long-term stake in the creation.

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Procedures Relative to Foreign Investment

Freedom of Establishment
Belgium has in place policies to facilitate the free flow of financial resources. Credit is allocated at market rates and is available sufficiently to foreign and domestic investors without discrimination. Belgium is fully served by the international banking community and is implementing all relevant EU financial directives.

In 2006 104 different banks were represented in Belgium; 54 Belgian or foreign-owned institutions are incorporated under Belgian law, and 50 institutions are incorporated under foreign law.

Acquisition of Holdings
Obligation to Declare
Direct foreign investments are not submitted to a preliminary authorization, but in some activity sectors, the investor has to ask for an authorization from the government: banks, insurances, food products production or sale, retail trade.
Find Investment Service Providers in Belgium on

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Investment Opportunities

Investment Aid Agency
Invest in Belgium.
Tenders, Projects and Public Procurement
Ministry of finances, Public Procurements (in French)
EBP, Tenders and Projects in Belgium
Globaltenders, Tenders & Projects in Belgium
Tenders Info, Tenders in Belgium
Ted - Tenders Electronic daily, Business opportunities in EU 27
Other Useful Resources

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Experts Views (2)
  • Market Opportunities

    Highlights for the U.S. Department of Commerce's Commercial Guide to Doing Business in Belgium.

    U.S. Commercial Service on 10 Apr 2011 related to Foreign Direct Investment in Belgium

  • Investment Climate

    Highlights for the U.S. Department of Commerce's Commercial Guide to Doing Business in Belgium. Belgium has traditionally maintained an open economy, highly dependent on imports and international trade for its well-being.

    U.S. Commercial Service on 16 Apr 2011 related to Foreign Direct Investment in Belgium

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    US GovTrade Promotion, the United States