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What are the challenges?

Overview

Doing business in Belgium is very similar to doing business in the UK. If your product or service is successful in the UK, there is a good chance you will be successful in Belgium. At present there are no major challenges to UK companies.

Contact the DIT team in Brussels at: DITBelgium@mobile.trade.gov.uk or https://www.gov.uk/government/world/organisations/department-for-international-trade-belgium#contact-us for more help and advice on doing business in Belgium.

[Source – DIT/gov.uk]

 

Business risk

Bribery and corruption

Corruption is not an obstacle to doing business in Belgium, and incidents of corruption are relatively rare. However, corruption prevention efforts vary between the country’s regional governments. Belgium has a well-developed legal framework, and the Criminal Code criminalises public and private bribery, passive and active bribery, and bribery of national and foreign public officials.

In 2016 Belgium was ranked 15th out of 176 countries in Transparency International's latest Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI). See: http://www.transparency.org/news/feature/corruption_
perceptions_index_2016
.

You should read the information provided on the UK Government’s bribery and corruption page at: https://www.gov.uk/anti-bribery-policy.

Protecting your Intellectual Property (IP) in Belgium

Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), as intangible assets, are a key factor in the competitiveness of your business in the global economy. IPR can protect your innovation from competitors and can also be an important source of cash flow through licensing deals or selling IP. IPR infringement can lead to loss of business, revenue, reputation and competitive advantage unless you take steps to protect your IP both in the UK and abroad.

If you do business in more than one EU country, an EU trademark and a registered community design gives protection in all 28 member states.

Belgium adheres to all EU laws regarding copyright and intellectual property and the local branches of international watchdogs monitor breaches that may occur, including downloading of illegal software which mostly concerns the music/film industry.

You can apply for a Belgian patent at the Belgian Office for Intellectual Property (OPRI) at: http://economie.fgov.be/en/entreprises/Intellectual_property/Aspects_institutionnels_et_pratiques/OPRI/, or for a European patent through the European Patent Office (EPO), at: https://www.epo.org/index.html. However, a European patent needs to be validated by the Belgian patent office.

You can check out the European Commission site for more information on making a European patent valid in Belgium, at: http://europa.eu/youreurope/business/start-grow/intellectual-property-rights/belgium/index_en.htm.

The UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) has more detailed guidance on IP protection abroad. See: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/protecting-your-uk-intellectual-property-abroad.

Cyber security

As host to NATO and a number of European institutions, Belgium is a prominent target for cyber-attacks. A series of high-profile incidents have hit Belgian Government, military and the country’s biggest telecoms operator in recent years.

The Belgian Cyber Security Centre is charged with the task of monitoring internet security in Belgium and advising business and the general public on issues related to online security and cybercrime.

 

Payment risks in Belgium

UKEF helps UK companies get paid by insuring against buyer default.

Be confident you will get paid for your export contract. Speak to one of UKEF’s export finance advisers at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/find-an-export-finance-manager for free and impartial advice on your insurance options, or contact one of UKEF’s approved export insurance brokers at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/uk-export-finance-insurance-list-of-approved-brokers/export-insurance-approved-brokers.

 

Currency risks when exporting to Belgium

If you have not fixed your exchange rate you have not fixed your price.

You should consider whether the best option for you is to agree terms in Sterling or Euros in any contract. You should also consider getting expert financial advice on exchange rates (sometimes called FX).


 

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