After a short-lived dip in 2016 due to socio-economic and geopolitical conditions, foreign investment in Flanders is back on track. Not only did the total investment amount rise by 11.41%, the number of new projects also grew by 8.59%. Moreover, foreign investments in Flanders created the highest number of jobs in 15 years, recording an increase of 26.22% (from 4,260 to 5,377).
Roughly four-fifths of all foreign investment projects in Flanders can be traced back to 10 countries. As in previous years, the US takes the lead. In 2017, the country accounted for over one-fifth of foreign investment in Flanders, with the number of new projects climbing from 34 to 46.
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2017 also confirms another trend: Flanders’ neighbors are among its biggest investors. The Netherlands, Germany and France land in 2nd, 3rd and 4th place respectively, and the United Kingdom claims 8th place.
Approximately one-fifth of all foreign investment projects in Flanders come from companies located in Asian and Middle Eastern countries, two of which claim a spot in the top 10. As such, the number of new projects from China almost doubled in 2017 compared to the previous year, earning the country 5th place in the ranking. Japan follows in 6th position, with a total of 13 new projects in Flanders.
Greenfield projects were once again the most popular form of investment in Flanders. Last year, 40.93% of all foreign investors set up their operations in Flanders from scratch. This does represent a decline compared to 2016. The reason is the growing popularity of expansion projects, which represent a share of 33.49% in 2017. Mergers and acquisitions (25.58%) also declined in popularity as a form of investment.
Based on the number of investment projects, foreign companies mainly invested in the following top 3 business activities in Flanders: manufacturing (71 projects), logistics (53 projects) and R&D (43 projects). Flanders also proved to be a popular destination for foreign investments in sales and marketing activities, totaling 35 new projects.