Exporting guide to Belgium
Belgium is situated in the heart of Europe and is home to many international organisations and multinational companies, making it an attractive location to be commercially active. Belgium’s proximity to the UK is also a great advantage. Its good transport links mean you can get there and back for meetings within a day.
Strong and open economy
Belgium is an affluent and multicultural country with a developed, modern, private-enterprise economy. It’s an open and competitive market and barriers to market entry are low. There are opportunities in most sectors, in particular for high-value products and services.
Similarities to the UK
Belgium has a similar business culture to the UK’s and English is an accepted business language. British products enjoy a good reputation and if your product or service is successful in the UK, there’s a good chance you’ll be successful in Belgium.
Belgium: at a glance
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Opportunities for exporters
There are opportunities for UK companies across a broad range of industries. Our trade advisers in Belgium have identified particular opportunities for UK businesses in the following sectors:
By 2020, Belgium will have 2.3 GW offshore wind capacity installed. An additional 1.75 GW will be auctioned in order to have 4 GW installed by 2030 (Economie, 2019). This results in opportunities for companies with experience in offshore wind development, construction, operations and maintenance.
Access to global market leaders
In DEME and Jan De Nul, Belgium has two global leaders in offshore energy development and construction. They’re involved in growing markets and can offer supply chain opportunities for UK businesses.
Demand for healthy and ‘free from’ products
There’s considerable demand in Belgium for tastier and healthier foods containing less salt, fat and sugar. Consumers want to eat enough fruit and vegetables and buy more seasonal and vegetarian products, and support sustainable packaging.
Private label products
Private label products have become increasingly popular, mainly because the quality of these products has improved over the years. Private label products make up 40% of market share (Private Label Manufacturers Association, 2019). Top brands face fierce competition not only from private label products but also from smaller, more niche brands.
In Belgium, the vast majority of the labour force belongs to the services sector. Within this sector, financial services, legal services, ICT and accountancy contribute significantly to Belgian GDP. Major financial infrastructure providers with headquarters in Brussels, such as Swift and Euroclear, cater to the needs of international financial markets.
Belgium has a track record for business-to-business financial services and is renowned as a consumer test market. If you’re successful in Belgium, it’s likely you’ll also find success elsewhere in the EU. Fintech start-ups and scale-ups can benefit from Belgium’s multicultural and multilingual population to ease access to other markets.
Geographical, political and financial centre
In addition to the 90 banks present in Belgium, over 700 banks and related financial institutions are registered in Belgium to carry out their activities in the country and across Europe (Febelfin, 2016-2017). Belgium is valued as a hub for financial activity by diplomats, lobbyists, multinationals and expats. It offers considerable opportunities for start-ups and scale-ups who offer solutions for this industry.