Foreign-owned companies employ 400,000 people in Flanders

About 1 per cent of companies in Flanders are under foreign control. This group of 6,554 companies accounted for the creation of more than 57.7 billion euros in gross added value and the employment of 399,594 workers in 2020, a study by the Flemish government shows.

According to the study Foreign Ownership in the Flemish Economy by the Department of Economy, Science & Innovation, the relatively small number of foreign-owned enterprises was responsible for a disproportionate contribution to the Flemish economy. More than 21 per cent of private wage-earning employment in the non-financial market-oriented economy in Flanders and 34 per cent of wage-earning employment in Flemish industry depends on foreign-controlled enterprises.

In addition, more than 35 per cent of the added value of the non-financial market-oriented economy in Flanders and 53 per cent of the gross added value of Flemish industry is created by foreign-controlled enterprises.

Technological intensity

However, the importance of foreign control varies significantly between sectors. The chemical and pharmaceutical industries are almost entirely under foreign control, while there is hardly any foreign presence within agriculture and the wood industry. Foreign control also appears to be more pronounced as the technological intensity of the industrial sectors increases, while the opposite pattern was detected in market-oriented services.

Early this year, statistics showed that 2022 was a very good year for foreign direct investments in Flanders. An all-time record was reached with a total investment of 5.26 billion euros. The chemical and pharmaceutical sectors became even more substantial, and the energy transition and innovation were accelerated.

The US is Flanders' most important partner in terms of gross value added. Regarding employment, the Netherlands is in first place, followed by the US, Germany and France. China's importance is increasing but remains limited macro-economically.





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