Brexit has resulted in Wallonia receiving almost €358 million in investments, while 539 jobs have been created in the region since the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.
The United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union at the start of this year created economic opportunities for the region to attract foreign investment. Around 20 companies decided to strengthen their positions or set up in Wallonia following Brexit, according to preliminary figures from the Walloon export and foreign investment agency (Awex).
“We have just launched a new campaign to attract British companies to our soil, but also Indian, Japanese, Chinese or American companies that are looking to relocate to Europe following the Brexit,” Awex international general manager, Michel Kempeneers, told L’Echo.
Since the referendum in June 2016, Awex recorded 36 projects linked to Brexit that could be beneficial to the region. Of these, 20 companies will be investing in ventures in Wallonia – among them five new companies.
According to the agency, many requests are still in the pipeline, especially in the logistics sector.
“This also creates opportunities for Belgian players. For example, the trucking company Euroterminal, based in Mouscron, has just signed a contract with an e-commerce giant based in England,” Kempeneers said.
Millions in Wallonia, billions in Flanders
Many UK-based companies are looking for a foothold in the EU for logistical, regulatory or customs reasons, and are choosing Wallonia, or Flanders as a base.
The latter region experienced an even bigger economic boost as a result of Brexit, with Flanders welcoming €2.4 billion in investments and 2,755 new jobs, while 81 companies made the jump across the Channel. Some of this disparity can be explained by the coastal location of Flanders, which makes it a slightly more practical site for some businesses than Wallonia.
However, according to the financial newspaper De Tijd, this new investment does not yet compensate for job losses in the region – especially in West Flanders – where over 6,500 jobs have been lost in this particular province alone.
Companies that move to Flanders – whether UK or non-UK -based – can continue to enjoy the benefits of EU membership and its legally and financially advantageous Single Market.