Status of foreign investments in Belgium (11/2018).

Many expansions but few greenfield investments with high added value.

Dr L Huybrechts

Corporate Investment Europe

Foreign investments in BelgiumQ42018

  • Sofar, a record amount of expansion investments in year 2018 (3 billion euros) in times of economic boom.

  • The chemicals sector receives the largest part, even more than before; other sectors with an above average number of investments: logistics, food, steel, retail, energy.

  • Not the best year for expansions in the pharmaceutical sector, but Pfizer is an exception.

  • Many acquisitions, especially in the chemicals- and pharmaceuticals sector, including some large purchases by Aramco, Sanofi, Takeda and Bayer.

  • Much more expansions than real greenfield investments. Belgium receives small- and some medium-sized greenfield investments, but virtually no greenfields with high economic value, due to high operational costs in this region.

  • Remaining opportunities for greenfield investments in … retail, logistics, food, port bound activities, chemistry and high tech start-ups.

  • Ports are the most important investment locations (Antwerp, Zeebrugge, Ghent).

  • The contribution from the ‘secondary sector’ (industry and construction) to GDP (Gross Domestic Product) has been halved during the last 55 years and the downward trend is still ongoing.

  • Future prospects: Belgium is expected to receive a good amount of FDI investments for another one or (maximum) two years, but as from year 2020 a downward trend is likely to happen due to a  shift in the economic cycle and due to a decline in  FDI investments from the (sofar) largest supplier (USA). The US investments will  decline as a result of a shift in the American economic cycle, the evolution of US interest rates with it’s impact on the value of the dollar, the large foreign debt of the US and the declining international appetite for  American treasuries. Due to the long-term shortage of FDI investments with a large added value in Belgium, the contribution of the industrial sector (including construction) to the GNP will continue to decline from the current level (20%) to 15% before stabilizing by strongholders such as chemicals, pharmaceuticals and logistics. The Chinese prefer to invest in acquisitions and, as far as  greenfield investments are concerned, in the logistics sector. The relative importance of Asian investments will continue to rise. As to  greenfield investments and acquisitions they already are more important than American investments.

….Further details in ‘News &  Information’   and  section   ‘Reports from Corporate Investment Europe’….