Forward together: International business and the new Belgian Government
Brussels, October 1, 2020 – As a new Federal Government prepares to take office, 16 months after the elections, the American Chamber of Commerce in Belgium (AmCham Belgium) offers new and updated policy recommendations, reflecting the unprecedented situation in Belgium and the world.
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many companies to reconsider their business models and location strategies, while governments, which took extraordinary measures at the height of the crisis, will now have to re-evaluate their strategic priorities and objectives. This is an opportunity for a small, open economy like Belgium to distinguish itself from competitors and become a leading destination for foreign direct investment (FDI).
“Despite the current challenges, I am convinced that Belgium can become one of the most competitive countries in the world,” said Marcel Claes, Chief Executive of AmCham Belgium. AmCham Belgium benchmarks the country’s performance against neighboring countries based on the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index. “Our ambition is for Belgium to reach the top 10, but in recent years, it has fallen in the wrong direction. Belgium needs an urgent course correction,” continued Claes.
Businesses thrive in stable, predictable environments. The pandemic and lack of a stable government since December 2018 have created lots of uncertainty for investors in Belgium. AmCham Belgium urges the incoming Federal Government to work together effectively throughout its entire mandate to create stability. Political stability should be accompanied by a strategic long-term vision for the country, as we see competitors doing, in order to guide government decision-making, relaunch the economy and seize new opportunities.
Based on the input of industry experts from our member companies, AmCham Belgium has developed a series of actionable recommendations for Belgian policymakers to help attract new and retain existing foreign investment. The five themes – taxation, labor market, healthcare, country governance and infrastructure – broadly align with those areas where Belgium has the greatest room for improvement in the WEF’s Global Competitiveness Index. Among others, the Chamber calls on the next Federal Government to:
- Simplify the governance structure of the country;
- Make the tax environment more predictable and competitive;
- Invest in transport, energy and digital networks;
- Develop effective patient-centered and integrated healthcare policies;
- Increase the flexibility of the labor market.
AmCham Belgium strongly believes that international companies should be part of the solution if we want Belgium to recover quickly from this crisis and achieve sustainable economic growth. “Good collaboration between international businesses – with their global networks and expert knowledge – and the government will be crucial to tackle this crisis and prepare for a better, affordable and even more prosperous Belgium. We have to move forward together,” said Marcel Claes.
About AmCham Belgium
The American Chamber of Commerce in Belgium (AmCham Belgium) is a dynamic non-profit organization dedicated to improving business and investment opportunities for the US-Belgian business community. Supported by around 450 member companies, AmCham Belgium plays a pivotal role in an evolving business environment by focusing on three key areas: advocacy, networking and knowledge-sharing. To learn more about AmCham Belgium, visit www.amcham.be.