Wage costs deter investors

The number of foreign companies investing in Belgium fell again last year from 177 in 2009 to 166 last year. The figures come from consultants IBM.

They show that Belgium is not performing as well as neighbouring countries that have been able to attract fresh investments.

IBM's Roel Spee says that Belgium's relatively high wage costs play a role:

"What we notice is that Belgium has been lagging behind neighbouring countries in recent years. This is the most important comparison. Belgian wage costs are clearly higher than in neighbouring countries. If companies have to make a choice between areas that are very similar, but there is a big discrepancy in costs, then other countries are chosen. We notice this particularly with respect to the number of projects linked to manufacturing as well as big projects in the service industry. Both are very sensitive to wage costs. There has been a fall in investments in both types of project."

Flanders was able to attract slightly more investments. In Wallonia there was a sharp decline. This is due to the fact that it's especially manufacturing and distribution businesses that are no longer investing here. They usually opt for Wallonia as land is more readily available at a cheaper cost.