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Belgium ranks 6th for investment attractiveness in EU

Welcoming 8% more projects in 2021 compared to the year before, Belgium remains one of Europe’s top destinations for foreign direct investments (FDI) by companies across the globe. That’s the gist of the 2022 Belgian Attractiveness Survey by Ernst & Young (EY). The country’s northern region – Flanders – stands out as the main driver of this success, representing roughly 60% of all FDI activity recorded in Belgium. Let’s dive into the main trends from the EY survey. 

Port of Antwerp Bruges

Belgium outperforms the European average

Following the COVID years of 2019 and 2020, Europe saw the number of foreign investment projects increase by 5% in 2021. Zooming in on Belgium, the country outperforms this growth rate, having attracted 245 investment projects or 8% more than in the previous year. What’s more, the number of jobs created by foreign companies in the country rose by 37%, representing a total of 6,968 jobs. This is also higher than the European average, which clocks in at 5,877 additional jobs created. 

Overall, this strong performance ranks Belgium in 6th place on the European scoreboard for FDI attractiveness

Sixth place is a great performance for a relatively small economy like Belgium, ranking just behind giants such as France and Germany. The country’s open and pragmatic nature, coupled with its internationally acclaimed multilingual workforce, makes it an attractive destination for investors.

Patrick Rottiers
CEO of EY Belgium

Flanders is the main FDI destination in Belgium

Looking at Belgium’s three autonomous regions, Flanders stands out as the most important destination for foreign direct investment in Belgium according to the EY survey. The country’s northern region attracted 141 projects or almost 60% of all FDI activity in Belgium. It’s also in Flanders that US companies – which were again Belgium’s main source of FDI projects – were the most active. Other important FDI source countries for Belgium were the UK, the Netherlands and France. 

Logistics activities reign supreme

So, which of Belgium’s industries were the most popular destinations for investments by foreign companies throughout 2021? The recent EY survey lists the following key sectors as the country’s main FDI drivers:

When it comes to types of projects, logistics investments by foreign companies in Belgium reigned supreme last year. In 2021, there was a clear jump in this type of investment, which claims the top position with 65 projects. Meanwhile, manufacturing and sales & marketing activities come in second and third, respectively. 

Logistics has always been a pillar of FDI attractiveness in Belgium. This is reinforced by a general trend toward re- and nearshoring as companies seek to better shield their supply chains from global disruptions. Moreover, investors applaud the local potential for decarbonizing the supply chain, which ensures a strong position in logistics in the long run.

Tristan Dhondt
partner at EY Belgium

Much of Belgium’s reaffirmed position as a major logistics hub has to do with, among other strengths and benefits, Flanders’ strategic location and the region’s multimodal infrastructure, which features a dense network of roads, railways and inland waterways, top-notch seaports and more. 

More info

Reported by
press release EY
3 June 2022

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