You are here

Flanders attracts record number of foreign investors: 179 international companies choose to locate in Flanders

1999 proved to be an exceptional year for Flanders in attracting foreign investment. A total of 179 international corporations decided to locate their business in Flanders, the northern region of Belgium. The foreign investments add up to a total of EUR 2.5 billion and will lead to the direct creation of 9,400 jobs as well as an anticipated 37,000 more in the relative supply sectors.

  • 22% of all investments were made in the information technology sector.
  • 14% of investments were in the chemicals sector, showing the importance of the petrochemical area in Antwerp.
  • 13% of investments were in the automotive sector due to the growing strength of the four assembly plants of Ford, Opel, Volvo and Volkswagen.
  • 10% of the investment projects were related to life sciences activities.

The investments were not only made to increase production, but also to develop logistics and distribution centers, set up research and development, as well as establishing headquarters in Flanders.

As in previous years, American, European and Asian investors alike realized the enormous potential of the Flanders location in the heart of the European Community. Some of the leading investors include BASF, Black & Decker, Ford Motor Company, General Motors, IDT Corporation, Intel, Nippon Shokubai, Pharming,Proctor & Gamble and Staples.


Insight into some of the leading investment projects


  • The German group BASF has approved an investment package of EUR EUR 150 -170 million for its subsidiary in Antwerp. This is earmarked for a new chemical installation for aroma extraction and for an expansion in the capacity of two existing units. BASF has also approved EUR EUR 75 million for the construction of a new production installation to make super-absorbents in Antwerp. This new investment project will eventually provide jobs for an extra 70 people. The Antwerp production site will supply the European market with super-absorbents (essential components in the production of diapers and hygiene articles). Imports from the USA will then become unnecessary.
  • The American group Black & Decker has definitely decided to channel its pan-European distribution through a unique center located in Tongeren. For this purpose, Black & Decker has concluded a co-operation agreement with the logistics company TNT Logistics Benelux. The investment amounts to EUR EUR 29.75 million with an immediate 150 new jobs created.
  • The Ford Motor Company has invested in the construction of a supplier's industry park at their existing site in Genk. The supplier's park includes a 1.2-kilometer overhead conveyor belt.
  • General Motors has given approval for a EUR EUR 145.76 million investment program in its subsidiary Opel Belgium in Antwerp. This program includes a new spray paint division, the modernization of the test zone and further work on the steel press. The extra investment is tagged for the production of a second model in addition to the Astra, which is currently produced at the site.
  • IDT Corporation, a leading multinational carrier telephony company and internet service provider, choose Flanders to locate its pan-European headquarters and call super center. The 290-person call center will serve as the central point-of-contact for IDT Europe's telecommunications products. 13 different languages will be handled from the center.
  • Intel has decided to invest EUR EUR 27.07 million in Lernout & Hauspie, developers and manufacturers of speech and language technology and software. The investment also incorporates the setting up of a joint venture that will develop robots destined for business via Internet.
  • The Japanese chemical company Nippon Shokubai will invest EUR EUR 75 million in the expansion of the new production plant on the Antwerp left bank. This plant will house the production of super-absorbent polymers, used in hygiene products such as diapers and ladies' hygiene dressings. Over time the capacity of this facility will reach 30,000 tons and 50 jobs will be created.
  • The Dutch Biotech company Pharming has decided to invest again in its company in Geel with an amount of EUR EUR 17.35 million. The Geel company, as well as performing research and development, also produces its own biotech medicines. The new investment will provide 50 extra jobs.
  • Proctor & Gamble has confirmed a future investment of EUR EUR 15.62 million for warehousing and distribution.
  • Staples, a world leader in the distribution of office equipment, has decided to locate its European headquarters, distribution center and call center in Belgium creating 900 jobs, amounting to an investment of EUR EUR 13.01 million. The distribution center will be located in Tongeren, Flanders.
Reported by
23 March 2000

More news about Flanders?

  • Regular updates
  • No spam

Interested in doing business in Flanders?

Let us help you!

  • We can introduce you to other companies, banks and regulators
  • We organize site visits to real estate locations
  • We assist with all legal aspects of setting up a business
  • We're an official government agency
  • Our services are completely free
  • We are a team of international experts

Receive our handbook to growing your business in Flanders

  • It's completely free.
  • Get an overview of all incentives relevant to your company.
  • Tax system explained in-depth.
  • Learn how to set up your business quickly.
  • Discover the benefits of Flanders (in addition to the chocolate).

In addition to the ebook, I agree to receive one or two follow-up emails