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Foreign investments yield solid 2016 results in Flanders

A total investment amount of EUR 1.87 billion, representing 198 new projects and generating 4,260 new jobs: that is the outcome of foreign direct investment in the region of Flanders in 2016 – as confirmed by Flanders Investment & Trade.

Overall strong results

Compared to the outstanding results achieved in 2015, the total foreign investment amount in Flanders decreased by EUR 834 million in 2016 (from EUR 2.7 billion to EUR 1.87 billion). The number of new projects dropped by 12.8% (from 227 to 198), generating 4,260 new jobs: only 92 fewer than the 4,352 jobs created in 2015.

However, both for the number of projects and jobs created, the figures are still well above the results reported in 2013 and 2014 (which were considered years of strong performance as well).

“It’s encouraging that Flanders delivered strong investment results,” comments Claire Tillekaerts, CEO of Flanders Investment & Trade. “After all, foreign investments are a major part of the driving force behind our economy.”

Minor shifts in investment sources

In 2016, around 20% of foreign investments in Flanders originated from countries in Asia and the Middle East: a similar result to that of 2015. The share of North and South American investments dropped from 27.8% to 19.7%, while the number of investment projects launched by European companies rose from 52% to an impressive 60.6%.

Slightly different top 10

When it comes to the top 10 nations investing in Flanders, the US is still in pole position, despite the number of new American projects decreasing from 53 to 34. This has diminished the gap between the US and the Netherlands, which maintained 2nd place. 

France landed in 3rd position and swapped places with the United Kingdom, which came in 6th on the ladder. The fact that neighboring countries are among Flanders’ biggest investors (41.41% of all investments) was further proven by Germany, which landed in 4th place.

Some of the most remarkable developments in the top 10 are:

  • the swift rise of Switzerland (7th place, 11 new projects);
  • the excellent results of Japan (becoming the largest Asian investor in the list, before China);
  • newcomers Canada and Spain.


Different types of activities and forms of investment

For foreign investment in logistics and manufacturing activities, a slight increase was recorded in 2016 compared to the year before. The two activities created 1,554 (a share of 36.47%) and 833 (19.5%) additional jobs respectively.

Investments in marketing and sales dropped slightly, but created a third (1,420 jobs) of the total number of jobs created. The share of foreign R&D investments remained relatively unchanged.

When it comes to form of investment, greenfield projects again proved to be the most popular choice (43.4% in 2016 versus 47.6% in 2015). A decrease from 31.3% to 26.3% was noted in the share of expansions by foreign investors with an existing presence in Flanders. The share of mergers and acquisitions in foreign investments, however, rose from 21.2% to 30.3%.

More info

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19 January 2017