Being at the crossroads of Latin, Germanic and Anglo-Saxon countries, Belgium has
always had a prosperous economy. Belgium is one of the founding members of the European
Union, and also hosts EU headquarters. Its highly competitive industry and service
sector and strong integration into the globalised world, compensate its rather small
size. According to the KOF Index, which is calculated by the Swiss ETHZ (Eidgenössische
Technische Hochschule Zürich), Belgium is the most globalised country in the world.
It also ranks among the 5 most attractive regions in Europe for FDI strategy ("European
Cities and Regions of Future 2010/2011", FDI Magazine).
As a founding member of the European Union, Belgium very often played and still
plays a decisive international role. Belgium hosts EU and NATO, as well as numerous
headquarters of multinationals and major global players. About 120 international
governmental organisations and 1,400 NGOs are located in Brussels, along with 181
embassies (3,000 diplomats). Such permanent international presence cannot be seen
anywhere in the world, except in New York. The same goes for resident journalists,
when Brussels ranks second just behind Washington DC.
The Belgian workforce has the EU-27 highest productivity (IMD "World Competitiveness
Report 2009") and the 5th most productive country in the world (The Conference Board
Key contributing factors hereto are: high flexibility, ability to speak multiple
languages, a work force versatile to changing working conditions and environment,
numerous high-degree young workers, etc. Business cooperation with universities
and technical schools provides strong impetus to R&D and allows for a better adaptation
through training, to the needs of a global marketplace
In Belgium, there are 16 universities and a broad-based community of world-class
scientific institutes. Belgium is the first OECD country in innovation performance
and biotech industry development ("OECD Science, Technology and Industry Outlook",
2008) and ranks fifth in the qualitative assessment of World scientific research
institutes ("World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report", 2008-09).
Belgium is your gateway to Europe, because it connects you to potentially 500 million
wealthy consumers. Already now, more than 70% of our Belgium's exports flow to other
European countries. Within 300 miles, you can get closer to 140 million customers.
Within an 8-hour-drive reach, some 375 million consumers await your products. Our
small domestic market is considered as a convenient experimenting field to test
Belgium is N°1 distribution location in Europe. It is considered as the most suitable
place for investments in logistics and distribution (Cushman & Wakefield, "European
Distribution Report" 2009) Its excellent air, sea, rail and road infrastructures
can easily explain this: Antwerp is a major European harbour, four seaports are
located in Ghent, Zeebrugge, Liège and Oostende, three cargo airports (Brussels,
Liège, Oostende), all these premises being interconnected with dense and interconnected
motorways and railway network, and even connected to neighbouring countries (France,
Germany, the Netherlands, and through the Channel Tunnel the UK).
Belgium really offers your business a unique set of options of efficient distribution
channels, inseveral multimodal logistics platforms.
In the so called Trilogyport project Antwerp Port and Liège inland port will cooperate
The Belgian tax regime is based on the principle of global equity, which means no
discrimination between foreign and domestic companies.
The flat nominal tax rate seems quite high, but in practice fiscal and financial
incentives lower the tax due quite substantially. As an example, the so-called "notional
interest deduction" allows businesses to deduce amounts subject to taxation up to
their invested capital.
Numerous fiscal treaties have also been concluded with third countries so as to
avoid double taxation. One should also mention the option of writing "Tax Rulings",
whereby the fiscal authority commit itself to apply a negotiated tax regime linked
to the tax payer's specific situation.
Also worth mentioning innovative R&D support measures:
… as well as a special tax regime for expats.
When it finally comes to comparing the tax effectively paid to the capital invested,
Belgium has got one of the lowest corporate income tax rates in the world ("C.D.
Howe Institute e-briefing", 18 September, 2008)
Comparatively Belgium offers cheap real estate, hence a somewhat affordable cost
of living in this part of Europe. As an illustration, Brussels ranks 49th in World
most expensive office locations, which is far better than European Top 10 cities
(London, Paris, Frankfurt, Dublin, Geneva) (DTZ, "Office Space Across the World
2009, Global Office Occupancy Cost Survey")
Quality of life should also be taken into consideration before setting up your business
or investing. The region that became Belgium in 1830 has long been one of the wealthiest
and developed regions in the world : our churches, town halls, art masterpieces
in Brussels, Ghent, Antwerp and Liège are vivid testimonies of medieval and Renaissance
happy hours, when comparable growth could only be met in the northern Italian peninsula.
Today Belgium enjoys one of the best quality of life. Belgium's major assets lie
in household living space, advanced healthcare system, social services, retirement
schemes and education.
By the way, who could forget our exquisite Belgian cuisine which shapes that ideal
"feeling home" sensation many foreigners immediately learn? We have more "multiple-star
restaurants" per km2 than in any other country. High-standard museums and art galleries,
theatres, cinemas, the famous Belgian seaside, the Ardennes and lovely countryside
landscapes add another cultural dimension to that typical Belgian touch that many