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Invest in Flanders

What makes Flanders an investment destination, a reliable trading partner and an economic powerhouse? We take a look at the different reasons the region has such strong economic performances.

A centre point for the European Union

Flanders is renowned for international politics, trade and culture, particularly in its capital, Brussels. It serves as host to the European Parliament, European Council, European Commission, as well as NATO, one of the densest diplomatic networks in the world and countless international corporations and organisations. Flanders has a degree of direct involvement and representation, on its own and on behalf of Belgium, that is unparalleled in other EU Member States.

Gateway to Europe

An incredible 60% of the European consumer market is within just 500 km of Flanders. Our infrastructure represents the responsibility linked to our location. We have 650 European Distribution Centres in our tiny region, as well as three major shipping ports—including the Port of Antwerp-Bruges, the second largest port in Europe—four airports and an extensive rail and road network, to ensure all our neighbours, as well as the rest of Europe, has everything they need exactly when they need it.

Export capital

We serve neighbours like the Netherlands, Germany, France and the UK, but still maintain strong connections to other continents and countries, particularly the USA. Flanders is the export capital of the European Union, recording +26.0% growth in export values in 2022, far ahead of the +20.9% average for the EU and even the +25.2% growth average recorded globally. One in every three jobs in Flanders is linked to exports.

© Flanders Investment and Trade

A strong workforce

The workforce in Flanders is assessed as being one of the most productive and skilled in the world. We ranked fifth in 2020, ahead of Germany, France and even the US and the UK according to the US Conference Board. A range of tax exemptions, accommodating everything from eco-vouchers to expat status, ensure remuneration is attractive for employers and employees. The result? An unemployment rate of just 3.5%, one of the lowest in Europe.

Growth in GDP per capita

Every euro spent on export promotion in Flanders leads to 87 euro in the long run. As every 1% increase in export promotion budgets leads to a 0.065% growth in GDP, it’s easy to understand why the GDP per capita in Flanders has grown by a total of 20% over the seven years to 2020, with expectations for the time since looking even more positive (almost up to 50% growth in the past decade).

© Statistics Flanders

A paradise for innovation

Our culture of innovation plays a part in this too. The tax system in Flanders smiles upon research and development, with various incentives and investment-recovery initiatives. This has seen 75% of large and small companies across all industries in Flanders investing in innovation, with private, public and academic players responding to the encouragement to work together in synergies and clusters.

Looking to the future

The Government of Flanders is always looking ahead. Wise investments in infrastructure and major mobility projects allow us the freedom to push the envelope in the areas of climate and sustainability. Already first in Europe for recycling and second for the reuse of material, Flanders is researching circular and bio-based economies, with sustainable chemistry, agriculture and energy fuelling our pursuit of a healthy future.

Will Flanders become your new business partner?