France overtakes US as largest source of foreign investment in Belgium

France overtook the United States as the source of the most foreign investments in Belgium in 2023, according to a study by consultants EY. In previous years, US companies were usually the most active investors in Belgium.

France has become the main source of foreign investment in Belgium, with 38 projects announced last year. The US dropped to second place with 29 projects, followed by the Netherlands with 21 projects. UK investment in Belgium continues to decline: from 37 in 2021 to 27 in 2022 and 18 in 2023.

Protectionist US

The number of US investment projects in Europe fell by 15 per cent by 2023, according to the study. A driver of the decline in US investment, according to EY, is the protectionist US Inflation Reduction Act.

For the consultancy, this is "an important signal". Measures are needed to revive investment in Belgium and Europe, says EY. "And why not be a little protectionist like the Americans," says Marie-Laure Moreau, partner at EY Belgium.

"Why not be a little protectionist like the Americans"

In total, foreign investors announced 215 projects in Belgium last year, down 8 per cent from 2022 and the lowest number since 2017. This included 155 new projects and 60 expansions of existing projects. Interestingly, there were far fewer new jobs associated with the investments: 4,293 compared to 6,569 in 2022.

In response, the study also makes recommendations to improve Belgium's attractiveness to foreign investors. Among other things, EY suggests reducing labour taxes to the level of neighbouring countries, reforming the labour market and promoting reindustrialisation.



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