Ever heard of Pillar One and Two?
They’re the OECD’s plans for a global tax overhaul. Unless you’re a multinational enterprise or an ambitious investor, you don’t have to worry too much, though. Not right away, at least. The OECD/G20 Inclusive Framework Project changes the international tax landscape forever. If and when it comes into effect, more reforms are likely on the way. Add to that the ever-evolving digital economy, new legislation, and the unprecedented events of the past two years, and the uncertainty is palpable. According to UNCTAD’s World Investment Report 2021, foreign direct investment (FDI) flows to developed economies dropped by a staggering 58% in 2020. In Europe, FDIs saw an 80% decrease. North America weathered a 42% decline.
Meanwhile, foreign investments in Belgium saw a 192% increase. And that’s just the beginning. Investors looking for innovative business opportunities in Europe are flocking to King Philippe’s Country. And for excellent reasons. (Hint: it’s not because of the waffles, beer, and chocolate) Read on to find out why you should start investing in Belgium today.
Business Opportunities in Europe
The Belgium Economy’s Open For Business
As an influential economic hub at the heart of Western Europe, Belgium’s exports account for a whopping 81.8% of its GDP. Unsurprisingly, it’s the 9th leading exporter worldwide. According to the World Trade Statistical Review 2021, Belgium ranks:
- 10th for exports in world merchandise trade
- 11th for exports in commercial services world trade
The KOF Globalization Index (measuring social, economic, and political factors) ranks Belgium in the top three, too.
From business services to digital, Belgium’s top sectors saw new investments despite the tumultuous global climate.
It maintained 5th position in the 2021 EY Attractiveness Survey for new investment/business opportunities in Europe.
Thanks to a flourishing open economy, Belgium is one of the best countries to start a business as a foreigner.
New business registrations can be quick and painless, taking a few days at most. With the right support, business immigration is easy, swift, and cost-effective, too.
Belgium’s state-of-the-art transport network gives businesses in Europe an edge. Distribution is world-class and efficient, whether by train, road, sea, air, waterways, or multimodal transport. Belgium’s logistics system is supported by the latest internet and telecommunications infrastructures.
It boasts the world’s:
- Densest road network
- 4th densest rail network with high-speed intercontinental connections
- Largest port concentration, including seaports, inland ports, and regional airports
With a custom-designed strategy and end-to-end support, your new or immigrated business can take advantage of Belgium’s logistic network, too.
Who Doesn’t Like Tax Incentives?
Belgium’s tax rates seem ridiculously high at first glance. In reality, foreign investors and international tax partners with know-how and guidance benefit from a range of corporate tax deductions, including:
- Notional interest
- New asset investment deductions
- Federal tax exemption for subsidies
The Belgian tax system also rewards innovation, research, and development with tax credits and income deductions. With the right team on your side, your innovation company or start-up can get grant opportunities and network support.
Global Players and Decision-Makers
Belgium is the unofficial capital of the European Union. It’s also home to NATO—the second most diplomatic center globally. You’ll find more international organizations in Brussels than in Washington D.C., including over:
- 180 embassies
- 5,000 diplomats
- 1,000 lobby groups
- 120 global government institutions
What does this herculean international presence mean for investors in Belgium? Paired with a bustling economy, it unlocks more business opportunities in Europe.
Belgian Citizenship Through Business
Belgium doesn’t have a golden visa program but a business residency program. Foreigners who want to reside and run a business in Belgium can apply for a Professional Card. It’s a special type of authorization not based on investment amounts. Rather, approval is based on the economic value your business or project brings to the Belgian market. Qualified applicants obtain Belgian residency before Belgian citizenship is possible.
A Belgian passport includes benefits like:
- No residency requirements
- Full family residency
- Visa-free travel to 180+ worldwide destinations
- Schengen zone access
Other attractive perks include high living standards, quality health and education systems, and affordable real estate. Belgium’s business residency program only welcomes business investments. There are countless avenues to fulfill Belgium’s business residency program conditions, from company holding structures to foreign investments. Well-versed business and immigration guidance are crucial, though.
A Workforce to Be Reckoned With
Belgian employees are multilingual and well-educated with diverse skills and an eagerness to learn. Belgium’s workforce scores well above the OECD’s average—more than 30% have a higher education degree. When looking for business opportunities in Europe, human resources is a key consideration—and a complicated one. Your business could also have access to a social security reduction scheme, allowing you to optimize salary expenses while minimizing your overall labor costs.
Available incentives include:
- Lifelong exemption from social security contributions (SSCs) for your first hired employee.
- Further SSC reductions for the next five employees you hire (for a period of three years).
- SSC reductions for qualifying employees under age 25 (for a period of two years).
- SSC reductions for qualifying employees aged 55–59 and 60–65.
With the right business management support and strategy, you can benefit from the 10th most productive workforce in the world at a reduced cost.
Where Innovation Meets Investment
Belgium is an epicenter of lifelong learning, educational excellence, and modern innovation. Many of its 16 universities consistently rank among the top institutions worldwide.
- Home to world-renowned scientific and research centers
- A perfect testing market with access to 500 million European consumers
- An investment hotspot for cutting-edge industries like biotech and pharma, cybersecurity, fintech, and sustainability (cleantech such as windmill technology)
- Largest chemical cluster worldwide second only to Antwerp
- Leader in numerous industries, including e-commerce, automotive, logistics, and agriculture (frozen vegetables and meat processing).
- Home to a world-class airplane industry and airports like Zaventem
The investment options in Belgium are diverse, wide-ranging, and envelope-pushing. From Brussels and Flanders to Wallonia, Belgium’s multicultural trading hub offers unique perks you won’t find anywhere else on earth.
Enter the Crossroads of Europe With Innovation Park
Despite tumultuous times, Belgium remains an investor’s Utopia. The legal, tax, and financial goalposts are always shifting, though. Business opportunities in Europe and beyond are only realized with an impactful, pragmatic approach. So, how do you enter Belgium’s bustling economy sustainably and profitably?
Easy. With Innovation Park.
As multinational business experts, we work closely with Belgian stakeholders to provide grant opportunities and tailor-made business solutions to our clients. From residency and corporate tax optimization to business immigration, development, and structuring, we’re here to help. See what our vast global partner network and unmatched expertise can do for you.
You May Also Like: