Belgium, located in the heart of Western Europe, maintains a crucial position in the European and world economies. In addition to hosting several international companies, Belgium, one of the original six founding nations of the European Union, has continually prospered as a gateway for commercial activity with other countries worldwide.
Despite its relatively small size, Belgium offers a favorable environment for starting a business, particularly in its major cities such as Brussels. If you are contemplating launching a business in Belgium, it is crucial to thoroughly research the local market and ensure your business concept is viable.
By the time you finish reading this article, you will have gained both a broad overview and a detailed understanding of the lucrative benefits of the country, making it worth considering for investment, even if you haven’t had the opportunity to visit Belgium yet.
Belgium’s strategic location at the heart of the European Union (EU) has made it a prime destination for business. With its proximity to major European markets, including France, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom, Belgium provides easy access to over 500 million consumers. This central position has facilitated seamless trade and investment opportunities.
Belgium boasts impressive figures to support its business-friendly environment. The country has one of the highest GDPs per capita in the EU, standing at approximately $49,392 in 2022. Its well-developed infrastructure, including a network of highways, ports, and railways, further enhances its business appeal. Trading goods in and out of Belgium is super quick! It takes only an hour to complete all the paperwork for exporting goods. That’s one big reason why Belgium is ranked as one of the best in the world for making trade easy, according to the World Bank’s Doing Business report.
Belgium’s flourishing open economy consistently ranks among the world’s best for facilitating business operations. With a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of over $ 582.21 billion in 2022, Belgium is one of Europe’s economic powerhouses. Its strategic location at the heart of the European Union (EU) provides easy access to a market of more than 500 million consumers.
Belgium’s business-friendly environment is further exemplified by its excellent infrastructure, efficient transportation networks, and highly skilled workforce. The World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index consistently ranks Belgium among the top 50 countries, highlighting its favorable regulatory framework for businesses.
Foreign investment has also thrived in Belgium, with over 3,000 multinational companies choosing it as their European headquarters. This influx of foreign capital has contributed to the nation’s economic resilience and stability. Belgium’s commitment to open trade, backed by its membership in various international trade agreements, makes it an attractive destination for entrepreneurs and investors seeking global opportunities.
Work-friendly Employment laws
Belgium has exceptional employment laws that facilitate business operations and foster a conducive environment for the workforce. These regulations prioritize the well-being of both employees and employers, contributing to Belgium’s reputation as a business-friendly nation.
Belgium’s unemployment rate has consistently remained below the European Union average, at 5.50% in July 2023. This low rate indicates the country’s stable job market and the effectiveness of its labor policies. Moreover, the nation offers a robust social security system covering healthcare, unemployment benefits, and pension plans. This ensures that employees are well-protected, enhancing their job security and overall quality of life.
Belgium ranked eighth on the Global Workplace Happiness Index in 2022. This index assesses how satisfied people are with their current positions and how confident they are in the local economy, everyday work satisfaction, and career prospects in the coming years.
Additionally, Belgium encourages a healthy work-life balance, with a standard 38-hour workweek and generous paid leave entitlements. This approach not only attracts top talent but also boosts productivity. In summary, Belgium’s progressive employment laws make it an excellent choice for businesses, offering stability, skilled workers, and a high quality of life for employees.
High foreign direct investment (FDI)
Belgium is known for its significant foreign direct investment (FDI) activity, as indicated by the 2020 World Investment Report by UNCTAD. In 2018, the country attracted $18 billion in FDI, completing over 278 investment projects and creating more than 8,000 jobs. This demonstrates Belgium’s appeal as a secure investment destination in Europe.
Belgium has established policies that promote the unrestricted movement of financial resources and provide equal access to credit for both local and foreign investors at market rates. The country fully integrates into the international banking community and adheres to EU financial regulations. Over 81 banks operate in Belgium, with 56 of them being foreign-owned, and the rest are locally incorporated institutions.
Investors are drawn to Belgium due to its economic stability, skilled workforce, quality infrastructure, reasonable corporate tax rates, and affordable cost of living. Most investments are directed toward financial services, insurance, manufacturing, energy, commerce, real estate, administrative services, and professional, scientific, and technical activities.
Belgium offers attractive tax benefits to businesses, making it a prime location for investment. One of the key advantages is its low corporate tax rate. Belgium has a corporate tax rate of 25%, which is competitive compared to other European countries. Additionally, numerous tax incentives and reliefs are available to businesses, further lower their tax burden.
Belgium’s extensive network of tax treaties is another boon for international businesses. These treaties help prevent double taxation and provide businesses with greater tax certainty. Belgium has signed 150 double-tax treaties with various countries, facilitating smoother cross-border transactions and encouraging foreign investments.
Moreover, Belgium offers tax incentives for research and development activities, encouraging innovation. Businesses engaged in R&D can benefit from tax deductions and credits, creating a culture of innovation and technological advancement.
Brussels has a workforce that is proficient in multiple languages and cultures and exceptionally talented. It holds the 16th position globally for talent competitiveness among the world’s leading economies. This means you can swiftly and effectively assemble a strong business team by harnessing the abundant European talent and expertise available here.
The country’s population of 11.6 million is well-educated and culturally diverse, drawing in a considerable international talent pool. English, a standard second or third language, is the primary means of communication in nearly all professional settings.
Belgium’s ranking as the second most talented country among the world’s top economies encompass various aspects, including investments in education, robust healthcare infrastructure, employee training programs, and a significant presence of female workers in the labor force.
Belgium has established itself as a logistics powerhouse, boasting an exceptional infrastructure that has significantly simplified business operations. With its strategic location at the crossroads of Europe, Belgium has become a central hub for trade and transportation. The country’s well-connected road network spans over 150,000 kilometers, and its ports, particularly the Port of Antwerp, rank among the most prominent and busiest in the world, handling over 290 million tons of cargo annually. Moreover, Belgium’s extensive railway system covers approximately 3,600 kilometers, facilitating efficient freight transportation.
Brussels Airport is a vital gateway for air transportation, handling over 674,000 tons of cargo yearly. The country’s logistical prowess is further exemplified by its dense network of warehouses and distribution centers, making it a prime choice for businesses looking to streamline their supply chains. The presence of top-tier logistics providers, like DHL and Kuehne + Nagel, further enhances Belgium’s appeal.
Thriving Financial sector
Brussels is globally well-known for its top-notch financial infrastructure, expertise in payment services, and advanced cybersecurity knowledge, as evidenced by Febelfin’s involvement in Fintech.
Furthermore, Brussels serves as the headquarters for prominent financial entities. The city also hosts various other financial service providers, including credit institutions, asset managers, brokerage firms, leasing companies, and clearing and settlement companies.
Additionally, specialized incubators like Start-it (supported by KBC, and Co-Station (affiliated with BNP Paribas Fortis) play a pivotal role in nurturing innovation and facilitating growth for numerous startups.
Affordable real estate
Belgium boasts a thriving real estate industry that presents an attractive opportunity for businesses and investors. One of its key advantages is the affordability of properties. On average, property prices in Belgium are lower than in many other European countries. For instance, Brussels’s average cost per square meter is around €3292, significantly less than major European capitals like London or Paris.
This affordability translates into a favorable environment for entrepreneurs and businesses. Commercial properties, such as office spaces and warehouses, are reasonably priced, making it easier for startups and established companies to find suitable locations without breaking the bank. Moreover, Belgium’s central location within Europe offers excellent connectivity, enhancing its appeal as a business hub.
Stable economic conditions and a well-developed infrastructure support Belgium’s robust real estate market. These factors contribute to a high demand for commercial properties, with steady rental yields for investors.
Quality of Life
Belgium boasts an exceptional quality of life that consistently earns high rankings on the World Happiness Index. With a strong emphasis on healthcare, education, and social services, the country places great importance on the well-being of its citizens. Belgium is known for its excellent healthcare system, accessible to all residents. The education system is world-class, and the country invests heavily in public infrastructure, ensuring a high standard of living.
In the summer, most people get at least four weeks of vacation. Plus, they have a good balance between their job and personal life. The bosses in Belgium are starting to like the idea of flexible work, like working from home. And the transportation system is fantastic, making it easy for people to live in the countryside and still enjoy the perks of city life.
So, in Belgium, people work fewer hours, have plenty of time off., and enjoy a nice balance between work and fun!