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Priorities for a Prosperous Belgium

investing in investments

In the 2019 edition of our Priorities for a Prosperous Belgium (PPB), our flagship policy publication pulling together our main recommendations for the next federal and regional governments in Belgium, we look at our member companies’ main concerns for investing and doing business in Belgium: the labor market, country governance, mobility & infrastructure, corporate taxation and healthcare.

The PPB is presented as an election memorandum for the next federal and regional governments in Belgium, a guideline from the international business community, to attract more foreign direct investments and to create more prosperity for all.

“We want more companies to say #Yes2Belgium as a business and investment location”

A small and open economy like Belgium depends on foreign direct investment to build a strong ecosystem for companies of all sizes, to create direct and indirect jobs at all skill levels and to increase the general welfare. If Belgium is to give a positive impulse to investors, to attract new and retain existing businesses, it will need to tackle the problems that are discouraging more companies from investing and doing business in Belgium. 

The PPB calls on the next governments to invest in people to build a 21st century workforce; invest in public sector efficiency to make budgetary room for maneuver; invest in infrastructure to allow the swift movement of people, goods and services; and invest in business, to ease the cost and complexity of operating in Belgium.

With the goal of attracting more foreign investment to Belgium in mind, we set the challenge and ambition for Belgium to achieve a top ten ranking in the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index within the next ten years. Belgium is currently ranked 21st out of 140 countries.

The concerns of our member companies align closely with those areas where Belgium has the greatest room for improvement in the WEF’s Global Competitiveness Index: labor market, country governance, mobility & infrastructure, corporate taxation and healthcare.

LABOR MARKET

A well-functioning labor market should be driven by supply and demand, with the right people in place to meet the needs of the company. The legal and administrative framework should facilitate the ease of attracting, rewarding, training, reskilling (lifelong learning) and retaining employees.

Our recommendations:

  • Introduce a ceiling for employer social security contributions
  • Improve the flexibility of work organization and remuneration
  • Simplify talent acquisition
  • Adjust automatic wage indexation

COUNTRY GOVERNANCE

To attract more foreign investments to Belgium, the country needs to be governed in an efficient and transparent way. The government should position itself as a business-friendly and efficient partner to investors, throughout the whole investment process.

Our recommendations:

  • Manage government spending more efficiently
  • Cut administrative burdens

MOBILITY AND INFRASTRUCTURE

Companies need to be reassured they can efficiently move their people, products and services, physically and digitally, when making investment decisions.

Our recommendations:

  • Invest in mobility
  • Invest in digital infrastructure

CORPORATE TAXATION

Foreign investors need a simple and stable legal and fiscal framework to operate in an  efficient and cost-effective way. A country’s corporate taxation system will often be a decisive factor when a company is looking to invest, especially when locating their headquarters.

Our recommendations:

  • Create a best-in-class tax environment and reduce the cost of labor
  • Provide a simple and stable fiscal framework, using digital technology and standardization
  •  Enhance collaboration with tax authorities, promoting mutual respect

HEALTHCARE

Investment in effective healthcare policies, ranging from prevention policies to access, treatment, early adoption, innovative solutions and the management of (chronic) disease is essential to maintaining and improving economic growth.

Our recommendations:

  • Work towards an ambitious government program to anticipate future healthcare needs
  • Foster a true innovative healthcare valley
  • Establish ‘value based’ healthcare
  • Invest in lifelong health: from prevention and lifestyle to cure and care

Belgium will need to climb the competitiveness rankings, by investing in investments. AmCham Belgium stands ready to work with all levels of government, whatever their political affiliation, to facilitate dialogue between the international business community and policy-makers, and, on the basis of our Priorities for a Prosperous Belgium, to improve Belgium’s competitiveness and attract more foreign direct investment. 

Download the 2019 Priorities for a Prosperous Belgium