While the federal government continues to negotiate the 2013 budget, the regions are successfully using their devolved responsibilities to stimulate investment and growth in Belgium.
At the federal level, Belgium is struggling to find the right balance between austerity and stimulus as the eurozone slips back into recession. But at the regional level, Wallonia andFlanders are both devising innovative measures that make the country an attractive place to do business, especially for companies involved in research & development activities.
The Financial Times published a special report last week on ‘Doing Business in Wallonia’. According to the FT, the measures taken by the Walloon government over the past years are starting to pay off. The so-called Marshall Plan, which promotes and provides funding for several innovation-focused clusters, is encouraging investment, creating employment opportunities and transforming the fortunes of an area previously in decline after the loss of its traditional industrial base back in the 70s.
Marcel Claes, Chief Executive of AmCham Belgium, is quoted in the article ‘Driving to be Europe’s heartland of innovation’ as saying, “A good support environment from the regional government, the creation of several innovation-focused clusters, strong ties between business and local universities, and financial incentives have all helped make Wallonia an interesting destination to do business.”
Similar measures taken in Flanders were discussed at a recent event jointly organized by AmCham Belgium and Flanders Investment and Trade. Flemish Minister-President Kris Peeters spoke about the ‘Flanders in Action’ program and the New Industrial Policy which will encourage international groups to establish best-in-class facilities in the region. Existing measures have already, for example, successfully enticed Cargill to locate its largest R&D center outside of the US in Flanders.
Tough decisions face the federal government, but the country’s long-term prosperity is dependent on taking bold measures to encourage business to invest, innovate and grow. The regions offer an inspiring example.Source: AmCham.be