Good news from Belgium (the economy & business) –
1. Foreign investments in Belgium
This section was prepared in collaboration between the Federal
Public Service (FPS) Foreign Affairs and the Liaison Cell Federal-
Regions Foreign Investments. The Liaison Cell was created in 1995
as a result of the Cooperation Agreement “Foreign Investments” of 7
February 1995. Its mission is to raise important issues concerning
the investment climate in Belgium to policy makers, and create
synergies between all the Belgian authorities involved in the
attraction of foreign investments. The following authorities are
represented in the Cell: FPS Foreign Affairs, FPS Economy, FPS
Finance, FIT, AWEX, BEA and the Ministry of the Brussels-Capital
Region. Its chair is held by the Regions on a rotating basis and its
secretariat is ensured by the FPS Economy.
Secretariat of the Liaison Cell - FPS Economie –- Vooruitgangstraat
50 rue du Progrès - B-1210 Brussels
tel : 02/277.67.98 - Erik.Sterckx@economie.fgov.be
New tax treaty Belgium - China was signed
In 2008, the negotiating team of the Federal Public Service Finance
succeeded to finalize the negotiations for a new Belgian-Chinese double tax
treaty. On the occasion of the Belgium-China Economic and Trade Forum,
from the Chinese side chaired by the Vice-President of the People's Republic,
Mr Xi Jinping, the new treaty was signed by the latter on October 7, 2009 in
Brussels. For Belgium the treaty was signed by the Minister of Finance, Didier
If approved by the respective parliaments before the end of this year, it will
replace as from January 1, 2010 on, the old treaty in force since 01/01/1988
together with the Additional Protocol of 27/11/1996 (effective since
The main innovations are:
• It will now require full 12 months before a building site or installation
activity in the other country will give rise to taxation in that country,
previously this was already the case after 6 months which did rise the
additional compliance costs much faster;
• From a minimum stake of 25% in the capital of a company registered in
the other country a shareholder-company receives its dividend by only
5% withholding tax instead of 10% in the other cases;
• All claimants, these are both natural and legal persons, on fees paid for
the use of a patent or copyright will receive their royalties now with only
7% tax at source and not 10% as before;
• With regard to their activities carried out as part of an official program of
exchanges in culture between the two States, athletes and artist no
longer are entitled to special treatment and fall now back under the
general rule that their activities are always taxable in the country where
they have supplied their performance. The gold medal of Tia Hellebaut at
the Olympic Games in Beijing remains - as before - taxable under Chinese
• Inclusion in the new treaty of a special clause on the "exchange of bank
information on request", similar to the one that was negotiated with the
United States and that is now in a general way presented by Belgium – in
line with the OECD program on active cooperation - to all the treaty
Finally, China is now also recognized as a superpower under the tax treaty
and no longer as a developing country by the abolition of the so-called "tax
sparing" clause whereby Belgium allowed a reduction of taxes to be paid on
the dividends, interests and royalties received by Belgian residents, if this
income was derived from investments closely linked to industrial and
commercial development projects in China.
MBA Vlerick enters The Economist’s top-10 ranking
In the 2009 edition of The Economist’s list of the world’s best MBA training
programs, the Vlerick Leuven Gent Management School climbs to a top-10
position. Furthermore, alumni of this school are the best paid managers
The Vlerick Leuven Gent Management School entered The Economist’s list for
the first time in 2006, and has been climbing the chart steeply since then.
This year’s top-10 position secures Vlerick’s place among the absolute top of
international MBA training programs. In the regional ranking for Europe,
Vlerick holds the number four spot.
NAÏMA Strategic Legal Services GmbH, a leading international company with
headquarters in Berlin and specialising in litigation PR, a field of public
relations designed to control and steer communication processes during legal
disputes, has now opened offices in Brussels. Besides helping influence
positively the course of litigations in criminal and civil law, litigation PR also
protects clients from damage to their image and from financial loss.
The firm is taking account of the increasing number of legal conflicts at
European level. In the future, NAIMA Strategic Legal Services Europe will
develop complex and effective legal-media strategies in close collaboration
with law firms in Brussels. Above all in cartel law, competition law,
environmental law and consumer rights, legal disputes are thereby steered in
a direction favorable to the client.
Brussels is of increasing importance for companies and organizations.
NAÏMA Strategic Legal Services believes that their Litigation-PR strategies
can help fill Europe’s communications void, at least in the legal sphere.
Belgian nanelectronics research center IMEC to house Kaneka’s
European Photovoltaics Lab advancing joint research
Kaneka Corporation, the Japanese leading manufacturer of chemical
specialties and solar cells, has decided to build its European R&D lab on the
IMEC campus in Leuven (Vlaams Brabant province). Kaneka expects
cooperation with IMEC’s experts to further improve its current solar cells and
develop next-generation cells. This agreement fits in Kaneka’s strategy to
examine the expansion of its solar cell manufacturing capacity to 1 Giga Watt
by 2015. The decision to establish a European lab was motivated by the
need to have a presence, and in future also a production facility, close to the
rapidly growing European photovoltaic market. IMEC was chosen as the
preferred R&D partner because of its longstanding expertise and excellent
track-record in photovoltaics, and because of its unique knowledge and
capabilities in materials processing and photonics. For IMEC, cooperation with
Kaneka is an important research activity complementary to the silicon
photovoltaics industrial affiliation research program running at IMEC.
Swedish furniture chain IKEA to invest 21 million euro in Belgium in
The furniture chain IKEA wants to invest 21 million euro in Belgium next
year. This investment will be used to extend the shop in Zaventem and
renovate parts of the branches in Anderlecht and Arlon. IKEA also plans new
branches in Mons and Antwerp in the coming years. The chain already has a
branch in the Antwerp municipality of Wilrijk, which was recently enlarged,
but this is still not enough to take optimum advantage of all the opportunities
in the region, according to IKEA. So the company will put up a completely
new two-storey complex on the car park of its branch in Wilrijk. In addition
to this the Swedish chain is also looking for a second location in the Antwerp
Swiss company Holcim opens its new concrete plant in Dampremy,
The construction of this new plant in Dampremy (Hainaut province) is in line
with Holcim’s broad ambition to provide its customers with the highest
quality products and services, whilst reducing its environmental footprint.
The plant, which uses the cleanest technologies, represents an investment of
over 2.5 million euros. It complies with the strictest standards in terms of
quality, security and respect for the environment.
This plant will be able to produce up to 120 cubic metres of concrete per
hour. It has to be said that there’s no shortage in demand. Major
construction work in progress or about to start in Charleroi will require huge
quantities of concrete.
RTLINFO - 13/10/2009
Brussels is definitely … « dans le vent » for French company Windeo
Windeo, the French specialist manufacturer and distributor of domestic wind
turbines has chosen Brussels as the springboard for its expansion across
Europe. The establishment of its marketing HQ here will be followed in
early-2010 by the creation of regional-level subsidiaries.
L'Oréal opens its first “100% green energy” factory in Belgium
Avient currently operates three DC10-30Fs but has embarked on a
programme to modernize its fleet and the DC10-30Fs will be replaced by the
MD11F. The first MD11F is planned to be in operation in mid November 2009
with additional MD11F aircraft being phased in during 2010. The PD11F
offers better fuel efficiency and greater capacity than the DC10-30F.
For Liège Airport, these operations represent an increase in traffic of about
50,000 tons per annum and reinforce Liège Airport’s specialization in the field
of perishable goods. This sector represents around 25% of total fright
transiting through Liège Airport.
British company Regus opens business centre in Ghent
Regus, the British market leader for flexible work places (offices, meeting
rooms and virtual offices worldwide), opened its first business centre in
Ghent, in the province of East Flanders, on 29 September 2009 - Regus Gent
Zuiderpoort. Regus now has business centres in Ghent, Antwerp, Zaventem,
Diegem and Eigenbrakel, as well as 4 in Brussels.
Regus Gent Zuiderpoort is located in the municipality of Ledeberg near the
junction of the E17 and E40 motorways. The Zuiderpoort neighbourhood is
one of the most important business areas in Ghent. This latest opening
brings to 50 the number of centres Regus has in the Benelux.
German logistics player DPD doubles capacity at Aalter
German firm DPD, one of Europe’s leading providers of parcel services, has
built a new depot in the city of Aalter (Oost-Vlaanderen province). This new
building will replace the existing facility and will double the capacity of the
The first phase consisting of new offices and a warehouse of 4,797 square
meters is now complete. In 2012, 1,279 square meters of extra warehousing
space will be added.
The new depot enables DPD to handle 11,000 packages per hour. After the
second phase in 2012, this capacity will rise to 14,000 packages an hour,
thus doubling the capacity of the old depot. Currently, 50 DPD trucks deliver
the packages in East and West-Flanders. Next year, this number will rise to
60 and in 2012 DPD expects to have 110 trucks in service.
Shanghai International Port Group takes stake in Zeebrugge terminal
Shanghai International Port Group wants to take a 40% stake in the
Zeebrugge terminal operator APM Terminals Zeebrugge. The project is said
to involve a sum of € 40 million. Shanghai Ports would like to conclude the
file by the end of the year. The agreement could be extremely important for
the Port of Zeebrugge, which may significantly increase its position in traffic
between Europe and Asia.
New container line between Ghent and Mediterranean Sea
The Finnish shipping line Containerships is launching a new container link
between the port of Ghent, in the province of East Flanders, and a series of
destinations round the Mediterranean Sea. In a first phase Containerships
will deploy three ships on the connection. There will be a weekly service
between Ghent and the Greek port city, Piraeus. Ships will call in, en route,
at the Turkish ports of Istanbul and Izmir, as well as Tunis in Tunisia and
Salerno in Italy. Turkey is an important partner for the port of Ghent;
exports to Turkey constitute 14% of the Port of Ghent’s total export volume.
Steel products from the ArcelorMittal factory in Zelzate count for a significant
part of this.
Coca-Cola invests € 11.6 million in its innovation center in Belgium
Beverage concern The Coca-Cola Company has invested € 11.6 million in its
Brussels headquarters (Anderlecht), in particular in the expansion of the
innovation center. The investment will increase the existing capacity and
offer new possibilities for additional innovative projects.
In order to develop new beverages, The Coca Cola Company has a certain
number of innovation centers at its disposal throughout the world. The
second largest of those innovation centers is located in Anderlecht. It
develops more than 500 products annually, for 108 countries in Europe, Asia
and Africa. Moreover, at this center research is done on packaging, vending
machines and refrigerators, as well as quality control.
At this moment, a small scale bottling facility is also being built in Anderlecht,
which will produce 250,000 beverages for consumer tests. The investment
includes a new state-of-the-art filling line offering new possibilities for
innovation and production of still beverages. Special attention is being paid
to the new facilities’ impact on the environment.
“An innovation lab” has also been established where Coca Cola develops
common projects together with its customers, from packaging ideas to new
Thanks to all these initiatives Coca-Cola has at its disposal in Anderlecht a
unique knowledge center that further reinforces their innovation
opportunities for the future.
2. Contracts abroad for Belgian companies
Important contract for Tractebel in India
Tractebel Engineering, one of Europe's largest engineering consultancies,
offers a wide range of engineering services for the energy sector, the
industry, the tertiary sector, as well as for communities and national or
Tractebel Engineering has signed an important contract in India. Indian Gas
Limited has entrusted a consortium including Tractebel Engineering and other
Belgian companies, such as G-Tec, FITA and Logistics in Wallonia, with the
study of a master plan for the development of the port of Manappad, at the
far south of India. It involves gathering the basic information, drawing up the
traffic and capacity forecasts, determining the works schedule and the
phases of the project and lastly designing the infrastructure plans of the port
and the terminal.
The new port should be operational in 2012.
Zetes wins UK contract
Zetes, the international leader in the solutions and services industry for
automatic identification of goods and people, has won a significant contract
with Premier Foods, the United Kingdom’s largest food producer. Under the
terms of this contract, Zetes will provide a traceability solution to improve
the manufacturing and distribution processes of the company’s Hovis
Division, which produces 2 million loaves of bread every day. Subject to the
success of the initial pilot phase, Hovis will consider a full roll out of the
traceability solution to all 23 of its UK sites during 2010.
Dredging company DEME builds port in India
Dhamra was a small fishing port in the state of Orissa, on the Gulf of Bengal.
Thanks to, amongst others, Dredging International, which is part of DEME
(Dredging, Environmental and Marine Engineering Group), from Zwijndrecht
in the province of Antwerp, a new port will open there on 1 March 2010.
Dredgers are deepening the 19 km long access channel to Dhamra. The clay
that is scooped up is dumped in the sea further up. Then pure sand is
dredged up thirty kilometres away and used to raise the 130 hectares of land
where the port terminal will be. In the meantime work is in full swing to build
the infrastructure for the terminal – jetties, transfer stations, railways,
cranes, conveyor belts, etc. When the terminal is ready it will be able to
handle 21.4 million tons of coal and ore a year. And that is just the first
U.S. Air Force Selects Agfa HealthCare’s IMPAX Data Center to
support worldwide Patient Medical Record needs
Agfa HealthCare, a leading provider of diagnostic imaging and healthcare IT
solutions from Mortsel (Antwerp province), announced that the U.S. Air Force
(USAF) has selected Agfa HealthCare’s IMPAX Data Center to manage and
share clinical information and images across all of the USAF’s medical
facilities in the United States, supporting USAF's integrated global healthcare
delivery system. IMPAX Data Center will be installed at David Grant Medical
Center at Travis Air Force Base (AFB), California and at the 375th Medical
Group at Scott AFB, Illinois.
IMPAX Data Center integrates with existing picture archiving and
communication systems (PACS) in multiple clinical departments and facilities,
allowing the USAF to visualize, or image-enable, its electronic health record
(EHR) and consolidating clinical patient data into a single archive, accessible
from the point of care.
Tractebel Engineering signs contract for site study with a view to
construction of first nuclear power plant in Jordan
The Jordan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC) has awarded a site study
contract for Jordan’s first nuclear power plant to Tractebel Engineering.
Tractebel Engineering will investigate the preliminary site near Aqaba, which
was identified by JAEC and a technical national committee. The studies will
cover public health, safety, and security issues, in addition to conducting
specialized surveys to assess geological stability, geo-physics, soil
characteristics, water proximity and cooling water requirements, risk
assessment, electricity grid connectivity, environmental and health impact,
and natural and human induced events.
The coalition led by Tractebel Engineering and composed of 2 other
companies: Jordan's Arab Consultants Bureau and France's Bureau Veritas,
was chosen from 6 international companies which competed for the site
Ion Beam Applications and the Israeli group Aposense sign strategic
Ion Beam Applications from Louvain-la-Neuve is primarily active in the
medical industry. It develops and sells state-of-the-art equipment and
radiopharmaceuticals for cancer diagnosis and treatment. IBA has signed a
strategic collaboration agreement with the Israeli group Aposense to
commercialize APOSENSE® ML-10, Aposense’s novel agent for molecular
imaging of apoptosis (programmed cell death). APOSENSE ® ML-10 is a
small molecule radiotracer which allows the imaging of apoptosis, a
fundamental biological process of controlled cell death, from the early stages
of the death process.
The agreement includes the collaboration and joint-funding by IBA and
Aposense of Phase III and subsequent clinical development of APOSENSE ®
ML-10. Phase II clinical trials are already underway.
Belgian green electricity company Electrawinds quality seal in
Electrawinds is a pioneer in renewable energy in Belgium. The green
electricity company has extensive experience in developing, building and
exploiting wind farms. Electrawinds also has several biomass installations in
Belgium (biofuel and biosteam) and a solar department.
In Bulgaria, the Belgian company is developing several wind farms in and
around the city of Bourgas. At the moment, wind measurements are being
carried out there and the connection to the Bulgarian net is being examined.
This autumn will see construction of ten wind turbines start up in Shabla at
the Black Sea, a project of 13.9 million euro.
On October 15, 2009, Electrawinds was awarded the First Class Investor
certificate in Bulgaria. This quality seal is awarded by the Invest Bulgaria
Agency and is supervised by the Bulgarian Ministry of Economics and Energy.
It is given to foreign companies that develop new, high quality projects in
Tractebel Engineering signs contract with Saudi Arabia
Tractebel Engineering has signed a contract worth € 5 million with the Saudi
The 3 year contract involves the provision of engineering services with a view
to improving transmission systems through the Saudi Kingdom.
3. General economic information about Belgium
Belgium moves up a place in the World Economic Forum’s ranking of
most competitive countries
Belgium has risen from 19th to 18th place in the ranking of most competitive
countries in the world, which is drawn up by the World Economic Forum
(WEF) every year. This ranking, which includes 133 countries, is based on a
poll of a good 12,600 company leaders combined with objective data that
measures countries’ competitive strength.
Belgium has gone up a place for the second year in a row. Last year it was in
19th place and two editions ago it was in 20th place. For healthcare and
primary education Belgium is in third place worldwide. The position of higher
education and training, and the efficiency of the goods market and
infrastructure continue to be good too. Belgium scores less well on
government debt, fiscal pressure and the efficiency of the labour market.
42 % growth for Charleroi Airport
Brussels South Charleroi Airport welcomed 1.16 million passengers in June,
July and August 2009, which is an increase of 42 % compared to the same
period in 2008.
Belgium in top twenty for information technology
According to a study by the Business Software Alliance (BSA), Belgium
comes 18th, in 2009, in a world ranking of countries’ competitive strength in
terms of information technology. Belgium scored 59.2%, compared to 53.4%
last year, which put it in 22nd place. Belgium comes out strongest for its
legal environment, where it is in 3rd place. Belgium also scored higher than
last year for support to the information industry and the innovative
Antwerp Company makes diamonds sparkle twice as brightly
The Antwerp company 3D Diamonds, has developed a new cutting technique
that produces a fantastic double sparkle in diamonds. A diamond cut using
this technique is facetted not only on the top but also on the underside,
which makes it sparkle on both sides. The new cutting technique, nicknamed
“Antwerp Twins”, can be used on every existing model of diamond, from
round to pear, oval or marquise etc. That is what makes this cutting
technique so revolutionary.
The very first “Antwerp Twin” was shown to the public at the Hong Kong
Jewellery and Watch Fair in September.
Antwerp can accommodate biggest container ships
On 23 September 2009 the Permanent Commission for Supervision of
Scheldt Navigation, which is made up of representatives from Belgium and
the Netherlands, decided to increase the maximum departure draft for the
largest container ships (14,000 TEU and more than 360 metres in length) to
14 metres. Sailing schedules will also be extended. A third and last
nautical/technical evaluation is planned for the end of November. If the
evaluation is positive the Permanent Commission will bring out a new version
of the arrival/departure regulations for Antwerp.
This is a very important decision commercially because shipping companies
keep deploying ever more enormous container ships. Moreover this is a
confirmation of Antwerp’s accessibility. Combined with the location of its
port, deep inland, Antwerp offers direct, high-speed and environment-
friendly access to the economic heart of Europe.
Brussels, top 5 business city in Europe
In the 2009 European Cities Monitor report published by international real
estate consultant Cushman & Wakefield, Brussels ranks 5th in the list of most
attractive business locations in Europe. The Belgian capital gets best
results for languages spoken, the availability of qualified staff and good
access to markets, consumers and customers.
The list is based on interviews with executives in charge of location for 500 of
Europe's largest companies.
Belgium 13th position on list of financially most developed countries
Belgium ranks 13th in the annual list of financially most developed countries
in the world, issued by the World Economic Forum in its Financial
Development Report 2009. The Financial Development Index Ranking is
based on 7 criteria. With 4.50 points out of 7, Belgium managed to climb
four positions compared to last year.
Belgium does very well as far as access to financial services is concerned. It
ranks 4th among 55 countries. Belgium’s biggest assets are the high density
of bank offices network, the high penetration of bank accounts among the
population and the wide availability of cash machines.
Belgium does less well for financial stability. This is due to the frequency of
bank crises and the country’s high indebtedness rate.
Minister Leterme launches The Global Compact Network Belgium
On 15 October 2009 Foreign Minister Yves Leterme opened a seminar on
"socially responsible enterprise and the Global Compact network" which
marked the official launch of the Global Compact Network Belgium.
The Global Compact network is a UN programme designed to incite
companies to do business in a more socially responsible and sustainable
Companies signing up to the programme will undertake to ensure greater
transparency in their corporate activities with respect to human rights, social
standards, anti-corruption measures and the environment. The UN Global
Compact Network numbers more than 6,700 organisations worldwide,
including 5,200 companies in 130 countries. Participation is voluntary, but
the companies in question have to submit regular reports on how UN
principles are being applied in their activities.
Until today, Belgium had no official Global Compact network. The newly
established Belgian network will enable companies in Belgium to become
involved in the global network, inter alia, by attending appropriate training
programmes. The Federal Public Service Foreign Affairs will act as point of
contact for the network.
Belgium 13th in the 2009 Legatum Prosperity Index
Belgium ranks 13th in the “Prosperity Index” which is established by the
Legatum Institute, an independent research centre in the United Kingdom.
The “Prosperity Index” ranks 104 countries and is based on years of
statistical analysis and research of objective data and subjective responses to
surveys. The data comprises 79 different variables organized into nine sub
Belgium ranks very highly for “Economic Fundamentals” (4th place),
“Democratic Institutions” (3rd place), “Education” (11th place), “Health” (5th
place) and “Personal Freedom” (9th place). It ranks lower for
“Entrepreneurship and innovation” (20th place), mainly because of its
relatively limited ICT and high tech exports, as well as for “Social capital”
(26th place). Only 31% of Belgians believe that people are intrinsically
trustworthy, although trust in friends and family is high in comparison, with
93% of respondents believing they could rely on this group.