The investment climate in Belgium delights U.S. and other international companies, with twice as many respondents in a study by the American Chamber of Commerce in Belgium (AmCham Belgium) and the A. T. Kearney consultancy saying that it has improved compared to neighbouring countries. One-third of the U.S. and international companies polled in the Amcham’s latest biennial Business Barometer felt that the investment environment in Belgium had improved in the past three years, up from just 17% in the previous survey, conducted in 2016.
Only 19% felt that conditions had deteriorated, down from 31% in 2016.
A similar enthusiasm was observed in other areas. Six out of every 10 companies already operating in Belgium now plan to extend their activities whereas only a quarter had such plans in 2014. And 80% of respondents aim to increase their staff in the next three years.
For Amcham Belgium CEO Marcel Claes, Belgium is an attractive investment destination because of its “historic advantages” such as its highly qualified workforce, geographical location and easy access to other European markets.
However, the study also lists obstacles that businesses face, the most critical ones being salary costs, administrative expenses and mobility.
Claes sees continuing to reduce salary costs as the main priority. He also feels reducing corporate tax is crucial to keeping Belgium competitive. “The rate is set at 21% in the United States,” he noted, adding that “it is therefore important for the rate in Belgium to remain below this margin so as not to dissuade investors.”
The corporate tax in Belgium is currently set at 33%, but corporate tax reform should gradually reduce it to 25%.