200 foreign investment projects in 2016: Belgium is clearly not a prime target for FDI

Last year, Belgium attracted some 200 Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) projects, or a decrease of 5% compared to the record year of 2015. Nevertheless, the result is the second best recorded in ten years. However, the country’s attractiveness is not at the appropriate level of excellent. This is partly evidenced by only 26% of leaders surveyed perceiving that the investment climate will evolve positively over the next three years.

This emerges from the most recent edition of the European Attractiveness Survey produced by the consultants Ernst & Young (EY).

Belgium is in eighth place of the most attractive European countries (behind Germany, France and even the Netherlands). It is bottom in the rankings (18th) in terms of job creation. There were 3,309 new job created thanks to FDI, which was a slight increase, however, of 4% compared to last year.

Although few companies (13%) are intending to launch or extend activities in Belgium next year, only 2% of business leaders wish to withdraw their activities from Belgium. This is the lowest number since the perceptions survey was first launched in 2005.

Leo Sleuwaegen explained, “It is particularly the reduction of the importance of American businesses in Belgium, which is worrying.”

He went on, “If we add in the recent closure of several significant subsidiaries in Belgium (Ford, Caterpillar), this means that in the future, we will be able to rely more on our own entrepreneurship.”

Sleuwaegen is Professor of International Commercial Strategy at the University of Leuven.

EY explain the poor results for Belgium by increased fiscal pressure for companies, significant employment cost burdens and transport issues.

The Brussels Times

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