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Belgium climbs the ranks, but not enough

Belgium gained seven spots in the World Bank’s 2019 Doing Business report, although it remains far from the top. Of the 190 economies evaluated, Belgium earned 45th place, leaving plenty of room for further improvement.

Every year, the World Bank analyzes data from 190 countries to measure the ease of doing business and identify good practices. The report covers 11 different areas in order to help governments improve their administrative procedures and create a business-friendly environment.

With a score of 73.95 out of 100, an increase of 2.24 percentage points, Belgium recorded the biggest gain among “OECD high-income economies”. Belgium scores particularly well for trading across borders, and the World Bank also noted recent reforms to strengthen access to credit and make resolving insolvency easier.

However, neighboring countries such as France, the Netherlands and Germany perform much better than Belgium, ranked 32nd, 36th and 24th respectively. Despite this year’s improvement, Belgium’s score is also below the average for OECD high-income economies (77.80/100).

The World Bank identifies two pain points for doing business in Belgium: getting electricity and registering property. In both cases, the concern is mostly related to the cost, time and procedures. This is certainly partially the result of Belgium’s complex country governance structure, which forces companies to deal with different levels of administration. Other concerns include the high tax contribution rate and the quality of judicial processes under Belgium’s contract law.

The Doing Business report shows that the top 10 countries in the ranking share similar traits, including regulatory efficiency and quality, mandatory construction inspections, strong safeguards for creditors, and court automation.

It is now up to Belgium to continue to climb the ranks, by focusing on improving its weaknesses and further cultivating its strengths. The World Bank encourages all countries to adopt a “continuous and focused reform agenda,” as the competition is also getting better.

AmCham Belgium is ready to be a partner to all levels of government to ensure the country stays attractive to business, to improve the ease of doing business and to lower the cost of business. Companies need to continue to say #Yes2Belgium, now, and after the 2019 elections.

AmCham Belgium will publish the next edition of its Priorities for a Prosperous Belgium (PPB) in February 2019, which will formulate the recommendations of the international business community in Belgium to the next government. Stay tuned!