The US remains the most important foreign investor in Belgium. Today, we go from numbers to real examples, showcasing several recently announced investment projects from our member companies.
Wallonia attracted €539 million of foreign investment in 2016, according to the Wallonia Foreign Trade & Investment Agency (AWEX), which generated 1,417 direct jobs across 103 different projects. The United States accounted for €79 million or 15% of total foreign investment last year. In fact, since 2000, US companies have invested over €2.5 billion in the region and created 17% of the jobs linked to foreign investment, with important investments in the pharmaceutical & life sciences and ICT sectors from such companies as Baxter and Microsoft. This commitment, over a long period of time, is further exemplified by Skechers, which last year completed the fourth expansion of its European Distribution Center in Liège, adding an additional 26,500 m² of space. More recently, ArcelorMittal, another member company with a deep commitment to the region, inaugurated a new €63 million production line in Kessales, continuing Wallonia’s long history of innovation in the steel industry.
According to Flanders Investment & Trade (FIT), 198 new foreign investment projects were started in Flanders in 2016, worth €1.87 billion and responsible for the creation of 4,260 direct jobs. US investment totaled €610.9 million or 32.6% of foreign investment in Flanders last year. The manufacturing industry – and particularly the pharmaceutical and food sectors – received nearly half of all US investment in Flanders, followed closely behind by research & development. Two US companies have been nominated for FIT’s Foreign Investment Trophy 2017: UPS, which is constructing a new 6,000 m² distribution center in Lummen, and Mohawk Industries, which, through its IVC division, is increasing its production capacity in Avelgem. (Sanofi, another one of our member companies, is also up for this award.) 2017 has got off to a good start, with Johnson & Johnson announcing a €42.8 million investment in a new laboratory on its Beerse campus.
With these investments, US and other international companies demonstrate their confidence in Belgium. AmCham Belgium is ready to work alongside all levels of Government to build on these figures and will continue to push for a positive investment climate in Belgium for our members.