In 2014, Belgium attracted 198 investment projects, a record number. Yet the number of jobs created per project is the lowest ever recorded, according to the 12th edition of the “Attractiveness Barometer” released by Ernst & Young (EY) on Thursday. 198 foreign investments represents a 13% increase on 2013. Of these 198, around two thirds (127) entirely new. Belgium ranks fifth among the most attractive European countries for foreign investors, behind the United Kingdom, Germany, France and Spain.
In Wallonia, the number of foreign investments increased from 36 in 2013 to 55 in 2014. They also increased in Flanders, rising from 110 to 121 last year. Brussels attracted 22 new projects, seven less than in 2013, Brussels’ second lowest number since 2005.
“Brussels nevertheless remains the second Belgian city in order of importance for foreign investors. According to the people polled, Brussels is also in the top six most attractive European capitals,” quotes the barometer.
There is, however, a downside: the average number of jobs created per foreign investment project continues to drop. The 198 investment projects created a total of 3,481 jobs in Belgium, which represents an average of only 17.6 jobs per project. In 2004, the average number of jobs created per foreign investment project was 42.9. Belgium’s figures are well below the European average of 43.5 jobs per project.
EY believes “the situation is the result of Belgium’s rather off-putting labour costs. 50% of people polled believe that labour costs are too high in Belgium.”
The barometer indicates that investors see the high tax burden in Belgium as “the number one issue”, followed by the wage gap with other European countries.
Lars Andersen (Source: Belga)