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    ‘Belgium is Europe’s SME country’

    © Belga

    Belgian businesses with up to 50 employees are in good shape as their economic and financial situation improved tremendously in 2018, reaching a 10-year high, a new report shows.

    Practically all indicators are in the green, notes the annual report on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), produced by Graydon in collaboration with UNIZO and UCM business organisations. The level of indebtedness has gone down, while liquidity has increased, as have the profitability and levels of investment.

    “The bulk of the SMEs are doing well and are robust,” says Eric Van den Broele, head of Research and Development at Graydon. “SMEs are healthier, more independent, more robust and better resistant to external shocks.”

    “Belgium is Europe’s SME country,” Danny Van Assche stresses, Director of UNIZO.

    However, a minority of SMEs are in serious trouble and run a considerable risk of bankruptcy, Graydon notes. In Wallonia and Flanders, about 10% of small and medium-sized businesses are in that situation, but in Brussels, the figure climbs to 20%.

    Nevertheless, the percentage of SMEs in trouble is decreasing, especially in Flanders and Wallonia.

    The report, published on Monday, also shows that the number of SMEs has kept growing in Belgium. There are now 1,166,000 SMEs in Belgium, a 2.7% increase from the previous year.

    UCM has called on the next government to keep the policy of helping companies hire their first employee by scrapping social contributions for the first hiring.

    They also call for the set up of attractive loan formulas, and support businesses looking for international markets to export to.

    Oscar Schneider
    The Brussels Times