The 2013 Forum on foreign direct investment (held at the same time as the WEIF – Wallonia Export & Invest Fair) provided an opportunity to conduct a satisfaction survey for investors who have located and developed business activities in Wallonia.
This quick survey on the satisfaction of the investors who responded revealed that attracting investors to our territory requires a long-term vision and structural political measures on various fronts. To this end, it is important to remain vigilant regarding the overall competitiveness of the region.
The main attractive qualities of the regional territory mentioned most often by international investors included:
- Quality of communication and transportation infrastructures
- Worker competence
- R&D capacities
- Stability of the labour market
- Performances with regard to sustainable development
- Availability of urban development
The cost of labour in sectors that are essentially labour-intensive, the corporate tax structure, and energy costs were also listed among the areas that needed improvement.
Although the high tax rate in our country is often pointed out as a factor that hinders local investment, recent signals from the federal government to maintain the notional interest mechanisms are consequently greatly appreciated by national and foreign investors when they are considering Wallonia as a place to establish a business.
In this same fiscal vein, the Ruling Commission offers special legal security for investors. They should therefore be given even more manoeuvring room.
More generally, with regard to fiscal matters, it is necessary to adopt clear, simple legislation in order to allow for only one possible interpretation and to reinforce the legal security that is so dear to investors.
In our country, where there is a very strong tertiary component, it is also crucial to invest more in education and training, innovation and the development of a culture of renewal and creativity. A broadening of the national and regional policy on innovation is therefore indispensable for protecting our competitive edge.
With regard to social costs, an in-depth conversation, without taboos, needs to take place on reforming the Belgian social model and its funding, in order to guarantee the long-term competitiveness of our region.