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Belgian business investments top the EU charts

Belgium, of which Flanders is the northern region, may be small in size, but local and foreign companies have a history of making big investments here. Based on statistics from Eurostat and the National Bank of Belgium (NBB), Belgium and Flanders have been topping the European charts when it comes to business investment for the past 20 years – ahead of various neighboring countries.

Immune to uncertainty

The level of business investment in Belgium has always been high, but recent numbers show that even in uncertain times, it stays that way. External factors such as Brexit and the US-China trade war did not hamper this. According to the annual report of the National Bank of Belgium (NBB), last year’s business investment accounted for 16% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).

Hotspot for multinationals

Since 1999, business investment in Belgium has exceeded averages for both the Eurozone and the 27 EU member states. According to University of Ljubljana economics professor Jože Damijan, this is mainly due to the country’s strategic location in the center of Europe: “Multinationals set up local production plants or logistics centers from which they expand their services across the European continent.”

Vital asset for growth

In 2019, business investment grew by 3%, more than twice the  growth rate of the economy, which amounted to 1.4%. Usually the first supports the latter, but Prof. Damijan’s comparative study of the extent to which investment can determine the difference in economic growth between countries has shown that there is more to it, such as the sector and the purpose of the investment. “Countries that attract investment that account for the larger portion of the production chain will grow more.”

Business investment as of % of GDP

Opportunities in times of crisis

Even in the midst of the current COVID-19 crisis, companies don’t shy from investing millions  in Belgium and Flanders, including foreign businesses operating bases in Flanders. Two recent examples include:

  • Swedish industrial company Atlas Copco, which announced a 3-year investment plan worth EUR 55 million for their site in Wilrijk, which currently employs 2,900 people;
  • Belgian real estate developer Heylen Warehouses started the construction of a logistics site that covers 150,000 m² at North Sea Port Ghent, their largest project in Flanders to date.

More info

National Bank of Belgium (NBB)
Reported by
23 July 2020

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