The characteristics of the Belgian economy – small, open and export-driven – make it highly dependent on foreign investments. And 2013 was a banner year, with Flanders and Wallonia together attracting more than €2.5 billion of foreign investment.
In 2013, 191 new foreign investment projects were started in Flanders, creating 4,000 direct jobs. According to FIT, this is an increase of 20% from 2012 and the highest level since 2010. Striking for the Flemish data is the fact that 29% of the investments were for new or additional (industrial) production capacity, a vote of confidence in the region’s future.
AWEX calculated that Wallonia was able to attract 78 investment projects, generating 1,531 direct jobs. More than half of these jobs (783) were created thanks to new investment projects, while the rest came from expansions of existing projects. Noteworthy is the fact that only three sectors – information and communication technologies, food processing and logistics – accounted for two thirds of all foreign investment in Wallonia last year (€577 million of €862 million).
Particularly significant to AmCham Belgium is the prominence of US investments in Belgium. One out of every four foreign investments in Flanders was made by a US company, while the US was the most important investor in Wallonia from outside the EU. The statistics presented by FIT and AWEX should provide encouragement for Belgium to continue on the path of reform. AmCham Belgium will present its own recommendations to improve competitiveness and attract foreign investment with the release of our Priorities for a Prosperous Belgium on March 13, 2014.