The American Chamber of Commerce in Belgium (AmCham Belgium) calls for a transformation of public governance and policy in its 2017 Priorities for a Prosperous Belgium, released this morning. This publication contains recommendations in four key policy areas for Belgium to attract investment, accelerate economic growth and create employment.
For the first time, our member companies have expressed strong concerns about country governance, including inefficient government spending, policy inconsistencies and administrative burdens. “Belgium’s increasingly complex governance structure is not only difficult for foreign investors to understand, it is also holding the country back from making bold and transformative reforms,” said Marcel Claes, Chief Executive of AmCham Belgium.
On corporate taxation, for example, the Summer Agreement, while welcome, does not go far enough to improve Belgium’s competitiveness – it will reduce the headline rate but not the overall tax burden on business, because of the need to be budget neutral. Some of the compensatory measures also send an unwelcome signal to investors, missing the opportunity to shift toward a more collaborative relationship between the tax administration and taxpayers.
Increased collaboration between public and private actors and between different public authorities will be necessary to achieve fundamental progress in all of these policy areas.
In addition to country governance and corporate taxation, our member companies are also concerned about the labor market and mobility, both of which are experiencing profound change. “New technologies and business models are changing the way we work and the way we move,” added Claes. “Belgium needs to adapt to stay competitive.”
To attract and retain investment in the rapidly evolving international political and economic environment, Belgium must embrace transformation with far-reaching and farsighted reforms. AmCham Belgium is ready to work together with all levels of government, on the basis of our 2017 Priorities for a Prosperous Belgium, in this change process.