Should you only be exporting to Belgium or is it worth investing?

UKTI webinars

By Gabriella Cox, Trade Adviser at UK Trade & Investment

Part 1 of 14 down, only 13 left to go.  On 11th June we began the UKTI Benelux Webinar Series: a series devoted to helping UK companies with their overseas activities. Using some of the FAQs sent to us from UK companies, we compiled a list of a few topics which are commonly a struggle for exporters, the first being ‘Should I export only or should I consider setting up in Belgium?’

So what did we learn?

Belgium overall is…

  • a perfect assessment market – generally what works in Belgium, will work further afield in Europe.  Even large companies such as Coca Cola and H&M used Belgium to test European reaction to their products.
  • accessible – not only is Belgium easy to get to for consumers a 1-2 hours from several major cities in Europe ie. Paris, London, Amsterdam, Cologne, but it also hosts a large amount of sea and inland ports, some of the largest in Europe.
  • highly skilled – there are three national languages leading to a multilingual workforce.  Belgium is also home to some of the top management school and universities in the world creating experts, specifically in nanoelectronics, life sciences & high tech industries

For investors, Belgium offers…

  • cost-effective office space – office space can be snapped up for as little as 120 euro per sqm and Brussels is one of the cheapest capitals in Europe.
  • availability – there is high availability of office spaces, facilities and greenfields.
  • tax incentives – companies can deduct fictitious interest calculated on their equity.  This is done in order to stimulate companies to finance investment with own equity rather than bank loans.
  • ease- It is relatively easy to set up a legal entity in Belgium as opposed to other European countries
  • investment grants & subsidies – cash grants are available based on a % of your total investment amount.  Subsidies are available for R&D. Training schemes are in place which could reduce the cost of your work force by around 11% for the first 4 years.

To set up a limited company…

  • there are two main choices – an NV/SA or a bvba/SPRL – the latter is recommended for smaller companies or companies who are starting small – this can be changed at a later date.
  • you will need to have some starting capital – for an NV/SA this is €62,000.  For a bvba/SPRL this is €18,550 – this differs considerably to the UK where there is no minimum share capital requirement. These funds must be deposited and frozen in a special company account whilst the company is approved.
  • an NV/SA must have at least 3 directors, a bvba/SPRL, like a UK limited company need only have 1.

If you would like further information on the content of this webinar, I would invite you to watch the session.  Alternatively, you can access the slides here.

I also invite you to join us for the following 13 sessions of the series; our next topic being commercial law, focusing on distribution, contracts and more.  For more information or to register, please click here.  You are also entirely welcome to contact me directly for more information or for any other export/investment questions.

As a final note, I would like to thank our speakers at this event, Karelle Lambert of AWEX, Corinne Vanbrusselen of FIT, SImon Duernickx of BDO, Amy Dalton of UKTI Belgium and finally James Pearson from the British Chamber of Commerce in Belgium.

The British Chamber is pleased to be supporting the UKTI Benelux Webinar Series through the engagement of the chamber’s Accredited Service Providers as expert speakers. If you are a UK company looking for more information about doing business in Belgium, please don’t hesitate to contact Gabriella Cox from UK Trade & Investment Belgium (gabriella.cox@mobile.ukti.gov.uk) and James Pearson from the British Chamber of Commerce in Belgium (james.pearson@britishchamber.be).

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