Belgium is an affluent and multicultural nation with an open market that offers opportunities to businesses in most sectors. There are over 1,000 public and private international organisations with headquarters in Belgium, including some big-name UK businesses such as BP, BT and Shell.
Belgium is the UK’s eighth largest export market – worth £12.5 billion in 2014 – and the top exports to Belgium include:
- chemical products
- medical products
- automotive equipment
The Belgian economy is growing at a rate of about 1% each year, and the country’as top priority sectors for economic development include:
- agri-food sector
- environmental technology
- pharmaceutical sector
- information communications technology (ICT)
- transport and logistics
If you think this looks like a good opportunity for your business, here’s all you need to know about exporting to Belgium…
The pros and cons of exporting to Belgium
The strengths of the Belgian market are mainly:
- strategic central European location
- open economy
- early adopter of new technologies
- excellent transport network
If you’re thinking of exporting there, there are several advantages for UK business, including:
- strong and long standing trade relationship
- proximity and easy transport links
- English is widely spoken
- barriers to market entry are low
- population with a high disposable income
- close to top decision makers in international organisations such as the European Union (EU) and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)
And the best news is, there are no major challenges – if your product does well in the UK there’s every chance it’ll succeed in Belgium.
If you’re looking to do business in Belgium, you’ll need a reliable and cost effective conference call provider – here’s how to set up a conference call between the UK and Belgium.
Opportunities in Belgium
The administrative formalities to set up a business in Belgium takes 3 days, and there are several ways you can do business in Belgium:
- Export directly
- Appoint a local partner or distributor
- Set up a local subsidiary
- Operate through a branch
- Joint venture
No prior authorisation is needed to set up a company except for certain specific types of businesses including banking, transport and insurance.
And there are currently good opportunities available in the following sectors:
- Chemical and life sciences
- Food and drink
Tax and customs in Belgium
There are certain tax considerations you must take into account when doing business in Belgium. Value Added Tax (VAT) is set at a rate of 21%, but a reduced rate of 12% is applied to agricultural products and social housing. A rate of 6% is applied to certain other supplies, including basic foodstuffs, water, hotel services, and property restoration.
Corporation tax stands at a rate of 33.99%, and income taxed is based on a person’s net amount of professional income.
No import duties are applicable as Belgium is a member of the EU single market.
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