Brexit drives increase in UK investment projects in Flanders

Brexit drives increase in UK investment projects in Flanders
Credit: Belga

A record number of foreign investment projects were launched in Flanders in 2021 – many a result of the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union.

The region attracted 295 new foreign investment projects last year, representing 6,233 potential new jobs, which are two new records, according to figures from Flanders Investment & Trade (FIT), shared by Flemish Minister-President Jan Jambon and cited by Belga News Agency.

“Despite the coronavirus crisis, foreign investors created a record number of Flemish jobs in 2021,” Jambon wrote on Twitter. The substantial inflow of foreign investments last year totalled €2.86 billion, half a billion more than in the previous year.

In particular, Brexit has driven a record number of British investments in the region. “Flanders offers assets for those who want to protect themselves against the impact of the Brexit,” Jambon said.

Creating 3,000 new jobs

Businesses from the UK accounted for 49 investment projects in the northern part of Belgium, the most active the country has ever been in Belgium. Of this total, Brexit was the reason for the decision to start doing business from Flanders in 30 cases.

Since 2016, the year of the Brexit referendum, 95 foreign companies have decided to invest in Flanders to better protect themselves from the Brexit, resulting in the creation of 3,097 new jobs and a cumulative investment of €2.21 billion.

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These figures are an update from the announcement in November that 81 companies invested in Flanders as a result of Brexit. Data from Wallonia’s export and foreign investment agency (Awex), published in November, showed that Brexit led to €359 million in investments in Wallonia, and has created 539 jobs since the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.

US once again largest investor

The number of potential jobs created by foreign investment jumped by 32.14% compared to 2020, to 4,717 new jobs. More than a quarter of these jobs (1,700) are related to research and development.

With 64 projects, the United States is once again the largest investor in the region after dropping to second place last year. It is followed by the UK, the Netherlands (48 projects), France (24) and Germany (17).

Slightly more than half of the foreign investments in 2021 came from companies not yet present in Flanders. One in three new foreign projects in Flanders in 2021 was a merger or takeover. In 16% of the cases, it concerned an expansion.

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