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Sector-specific opportunities in Belgium

You should carry out as much market research and planning as possible before exporting to Belgium, using both desk research and visits to the market. You need to determine if there is a market for your product or service and whether your pricing is competitive.

UK DIT’s trade specialists can help you identify local representatives for your products in Belgium. See: https://www.gov.uk/overseas-customers-export-opportunities.

UK DIT provides free international export sales leads from its worldwide network. You can search for export opportunities in Belgium at: https://opportunities.export.great.gov.uk/.

 

Government tenders in Belgium

You can find high-value public procurement notices from the EU and European Economic Area (EEA) on Tenders Electronic Daily (TED), the ‘Supplement to the Official Journal of the European Union’, at: http://ted.europa.eu/TED/main/HomePage.do, and you can access Belgian public tenders at: http://www.publicprocurement.be/nl/publicprocurementbe-english-0.

[Source – DIT/gov.uk]

 

Business services, office services and e-commerce/logistics

Labour costs may be lower in the Netherlands, but a central location close to customers is more important, and Belgium is an ideal central location between London, Paris, Amsterdam and Frankfurt.

Flanders is a prosperous region. Its location in the heart of Western Europe and its intense trade relations with surrounding countries are contributing factors. 60% of Europe’s purchasing power is located within a 500 kilometer radius of Flanders. This means that Europe’s main markets can be reached in less than 24 hours.

Flanders is centrally located within this megalopolis – stretching from Greater London to the Netherlands, Belgium, and parts of Germany and France. As such, the region ensures smooth access to one of the world’s highest concentrations of people, money and industries.

International package delivery players – such as FedEx, DPD and DHL – all have major sites in Flanders, enabling them to deliver more quickly to their customers, and the central and easily-accessible Brussels Airport only adds to that.

60 million consumers are within three hours’ reach by road from Liège in Wallonia (only 31 million consumers from Paris). This notion of accessibility to the markets is further reinforced by the fact that Wallonia lies in the path of the major freight corridors. The density of the road and rail networks, as well as the presence of a practical network of interior navigable waterways, are Wallonia’s major strengths.

Logistics in Wallonia is one of the six competitiveness clusters set up by the Walloon Government within the framework of the Marshall Plan launched to boost the Walloon economy. The cluster’s objective is to support all innovations in the logistics sector, in particular its technological dimension.

The primary aims of the clusters are to stimulate and support innovation, including through financial measures, via the regional aid programmes. It serves as a research consultancy and helps shape and roll-out projects in the four thematic areas of multimodality, the securisation of logistical chains, sustainable logistics and internal company logistics.

Wallonia heads-up the ranking of Europe’s most attractive logistics hub and continues to be considered as the region that will be Europe’s most attractive logistical hub in 2020.

Finally, Wallonia has to contend with less road congestion than other regions. A Wallonia-based EDC is in a better position to keep its promises as far as transit times are concerned.

[Source – Flanders Investment and Trade/Invest in Wallonia, 2017]

 

Chemicals and life sciences

The chemicals and life science industry is one of the largest industries in Belgium. There is steady growth forecast for the coming years.

Antwerp has the second-largest petrochemicals manufacturing cluster in the world after Houston.

The pharmaceutical research and manufacturing sector is strong in Belgium with companies such as UCB and GSK vaccines.

Opportunities for UK companies include:

  • process equipment supply

  • maintenance expertise

  • process monitoring and safety

Contact: gert.wauters@fco.gov.uk for more information on chemical and life sciences opportunities in Belgium.

[Source – DIT/gov.uk]

 

Construction

The construction market in Belgium is split into three main sectors: residential, non-residential and civil engineering.

Opportunities for UK companies include:

  • collaboration with architects

  • public private partnership projects

  • sustainable building products

  • energy and cost saving products

  • specialist building products

Contact: sophie.beyers@mobile.trade.gov.uk for more information on construction opportunities in Belgium.

[Source – DIT/gov.uk]

 

Energy

Offshore wind has a big role in the future energy mix in Belgium. There are nine offshore wind concessions off the Belgian coast. Some are operational while others are still in the early planning phase. There are incentives from the government to encourage the uptake of energy efficiency measures.

Opportunities for UK companies include:

  • offshore wind installation services and cost-reduction solutions

  • energy efficiency in industrial environments

  • intelligent energy monitoring

Contact: gert.wauters@fco.gov.uk for more information on energy opportunities in Belgium.

[Source – DIT/gov.uk]

 

Food and drink

Belgium is often used by small and large companies as a test market for food products.

Opportunities for UK companies include:

  • convenience foods

  • snacking

  • spirits

  • seafood

  • ethnic foods

  • healthy and organic foods

Contact: nadine.vandenbroucke@mobile.trade.gov.uk for more information on food and drink opportunities in Belgium.

[Source – DIT/gov.uk]

 

ICT

The ICT sector contributes for over 4% of gross domestic product (GDP) annually. Government interest and support is directed to R&D and innovation-clusters working within:

  • micro- and nano-electronics

  • internet of things (IoT)

  • fintech

  • cyber security

  • big data

  • smart cities

  • smart devices (M2M)

  • cloud computing

  • network technology

  • creative media, gaming and animation

Opportunities for UK companies include:

  • financial service solutions

  • ICT solutions

  • e-health solutions

  • cyber security

big data collection and analysis technology

Contact: mathieu.vanoverberghe@fco.gov.uk for more information on ICT opportunities in Belgium.

[Source – DIT/gov.uk]

 

Security

Recent terror attacks and investigations have increased in country security awareness. As home to NATO, European institutions and many other international organisations, Belgium has a thriving security industry.

Opportunities for UK companies include expertise in:

  • counter terrorism

  • critical infrastructure protection

  • tackling organised crime

  • security equipment

  • guarding services

Contact the UK Export Control Organisation (ECO) at: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/export-control-organisation to check your goods are meeting legal requirements for export.

Contact: james.cooper@fco.gov.uk for more information on security opportunities in Belgium.

[Source – DIT/gov.uk]

Defence

In June 2016, the Belgian Government published its 2030 Defence Strategic Vision which sets out plans for a smaller, but more modern Belgian defence. This vision also includes a desire to spend around €9.4 billion on new defence equipment by 2030, in the air, navy, land, and cyber domains.

Contact: james.cooper@fco.gov.uk for more information on security opportunities in Belgium.

NATO

The NATO Communications and Information Agency (NCIA) in Brussels and the Hague currently runs around 70% of NATO procurement and has announced that there will be €3 billion of opportunities in the coming years as part of a technology refresh. In addition to opportunities which come through the NCIA, frequent opportunities also arise through the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA). This agency provides a platform for nations to procure equipment together, keeping costs down, as well as managing NATO’s logistics and procurement support activities and projects.

Contact: ben.wilson@fco.gov.uk for more information on NATO opportunities.

 

International schools in Belgium – briefing

Families moving to Belgium can struggle to find appropriate schooling for their children if English is the only spoken language, since all publicly-maintained schools will teach in French or Dutch. Because of this, private international schools are a popular choice with English speaking families and there are more than twenty of them with around 25,000 pupils.

The majority of these international schools in Belgium are situated in the city centre and southern suburbs of Brussels, catering for the needs of families particularly with the international focus of the city and those working for the European Commission, European Parliament and NATO.

Numbers of schools and students are increasing due to increased demand due in-part to the creation of new executive agencies based in Brussels, and an increase in births. Student numbers are constantly increasing, with an average growth of about 1,000 students per year.

Further information about international schools in Brussels can be found at: https://www.expatfocus.com/expatriate-belgium-education-schools?gclid=CKSM0Nav5dQCFe6_
7QodiAgIEQ
; and http://www.internationalschoolsinbrussels.com/

See the British School of Brussels information on their website at: www.britishschool.be.

 

Relocation

With its rich history, culture, cuisine, architecture and countryside, and also closeness to the UK, Belgium is a very popular location for British nationals moving abroad. However, if you are not Belgian and you wish to move there, you must have the necessary residence documents.

The residence procedure which a foreign national must follow depends on their nationality and on the duration and purpose of their stay in Belgium. The free movement of persons applies within the EU, making the residence rules for British citizens much more flexible than those for the citizens of other countries.

More information about residence documents for foreign nationals in Belgium is available in French or Dutch at: www.newintown.be, and additionally about the naturalisation procedure, getting married and social security in Belgium, in English at: https://www.belgium.be/en/housing/moving_to_belgium
 and https://www.belgium.be/en/family/residence_documents_for_belgium

If as a foreign national you wish to stay in Belgium for longer than three months, you must register with the municipal authorities in which you are staying, within eight days of your arrival. You will need to be registered on the Belgian National Register, and to do so, you must have an actual place of residence in that municipality.

[Source – Belgian Federal Government, 2017]

Gov.uk also has details for UK nationals moving to, living in or retiring to Belgium, at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/living-in-belgium.

 

The legal profession

The Belgian legal system is based on the civil law tradition.

Due to the linguistic division in Belgium, lawyers are either Avocat (French), Advocaat (Flemish) or Rechtsanwalt (German). There are over 7,000 lawyers registered with the French- and German-speaking Bar Association and over 8,500 registered with the Flemish-speaking Bar Association.

Regulation of legal profession: There are two federal bars in Belgium: the Ordre des barreaux francophones et germanophones (OBFG – French- and German-speaking Federal Bar) and the Orde van Vlaamse Balies (OVB – Flemish-speaking Federal Bar).

Regulation lies with the local bar association in one of the 27 judicial districts. The bilingual judicial district of Brussels has two bar associations, one Flemish-speaking and one French-speaking.

Regulatory compliance: Belgium implemented the Establishment Directive 98/5/EC. Establishment is permitted for EU, EEA and Swiss nationals who are qualified in these countries. It allows them to give advice in international law, the law of their home country as well as Belgian law. Registration under this directive is with the local bar associations for French- and German-speaking and for Flemish-speaking.

Legal services by EU, EEA and Swiss qualified lawyers can also be provided cross-border on a temporary basis under the provisions of the Lawyers Services Directive 77/249/EEC. Contrary to the Establishment Directive, there are no conditions of nationality under the Lawyers Services Directive.

[Source – The Law Society, 2017]


 

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