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Foreign investment in Flanders hits record high in 2019

In 2019, foreign companies channeled a combined total of EUR 5.20 billion in sites in Flanders, spread over 258 new investment projects and creating 5,384 additional jobs. As a result, foreign investments in Belgium’s northern region reached a record in 2019 in terms of investment amount, number of new projects as well as job creation.

“These figures indicate that, despite the worldwide slowdown in economic growth and increasing trade tensions, Flanders remains a highly attractive destination for international investors,” comments Claire Tillekaerts, CEO of Flanders Investment & Trade (FIT).

Highest investment amount ever

Compared to 2018, the total investment amount in 2019 rose from EUR 4.24 billion to EUR 5.20 billion. This increase of 22.64% is mainly due to exceptional investments in the chemical sector – just like the boost in 2018, which at the time saw the total investment amount double compared to the preceding year.

€5.20 B
investment amount (+22.64%)
new projects (+10.26%)
new jobs (+0.84%)

Familiar faces among top investors

As in previous years, the US again tops the list of main foreign investors in Flanders with 45 new projects, representing a share of 17.44%. For the fifth year in a row, the US is closely followed by the Netherlands, with 40 projects representing a 15.50% share.

A striking trend is the rise of British investments. In 2019, the share of British investments in Flanders doubled compared to the previous year (from 5.58% to 10.85%). With 28 projects, the UK completes the top 3.

Top 10 foreign investors in Flanders in 2019 (based on number of projects)

Ranking Country of origin #FDI projects
1 US 45
2 Netherlands 40
3 UK 28
4 France 23
5 Germany 22
6 Switzerland 13
7 China 10
  Denmark 10
9 Japan 8
10 Israel 7

Greenfield investments going strong

In 2019, greenfield again remained the most popular form of foreign investment in Flanders: 55.81% of all foreign investors chose to start their activities from scratch. Not once in the last 15 years have greenfield investments comprised such a large portion of the total. Mergers and acquisitions, on the other hand, represented a share of 30.62%: the fastest-increasing investment form in the ranking.

R&D projects of lasting importance

For investments in R&D activities, Flanders was a popular destination in 2019, as in previous years. Meanwhile, sales & marketing represented the top activity of all foreign investment projects on Flanders’ soil in 2019.

Foreign investors from 2019 in the spotlight

Foreign investments continue to play a vital role in Flanders’ economy, as they create new jobs and introduce new knowledge into the region’s economic structure. To highlight the importance of these investments, FIT honors a foreign investor from 2019 in Flanders during the annual Foreign Investment Trophy event.

This year, five international companies have been nominated for the 2020 Foreign Investment of the Year Trophy:

Reported by
Flanders Investment & Trade (FIT)
22 January 2020

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