The launch of EU-US free trade negotiations – known more formally as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) – has brought renewed focus on current economic relations between the two sides. Amidst the flurry of statistics, Belgium proves that it punches above its weight in attracting and retaining US investment.
The Transatlantic Economy 2013, an annual survey released last week, demonstrates that although Belgium continues to lag behind the Netherlands, the UK and Ireland in terms of foreign investment, it remains a significant trading partner for the US.
The data show that Belgium receives 2.4% ($13.4 billion) of US foreign direct investment in Europe. This is significantly higher than France’s 0.9%, which has dropped from 3% in the past decade. It is also higher than Germany’s 2.2%, which is down from 5.2%. As Belgium’s economy is but a fraction of Germany’s, this is no small achievement. While Belgium has also experienced a drop of 1%, it is clear that Belgium is important for US companies.
However, the data also demonstrate that Belgium urgently needs to tackle the country’s high cost of labor and hefty fiscal and administrative burden for companies. Despite the country’s first class logistics, infrastructure and strategic location as a gateway to Europe’s 500 million consumers, US firms are increasingly choosing the Netherlands as their pan-regional hub and export platform. Belgium’s 2.4% share of US investment pales in comparison to the Netherland’s 24.5%; it is clear that there is much work to do.
AmCham Belgium’s position
While the Chamber is pleased that Belgium is attracting and retaining more US investment than two of the largest economies in Europe, now is not the time for the country to rest on its laurels. The Chamber will make recommendations to the federal government on how to reduce the cost of doing business in Belgium in our 2013 Priorities for a Prosperous Belgium on May 29.Source: AmCham