BELGA/WAEM

Record investments in Flanders "thanks to high quality research centres"

Last year foreign companies invested a record 4.24 billion euros in Flanders.  The figure more than doubled in only one year’s time.  Last year the cash was invested on 234 individual projects and that too is a record.

The Flemish government calculated that the investment created 5,339 jobs directly.  That figure nearly matches the record set in 2017.  It's the petrochemicals industry that lands the greatest amount in investments.

The US remains Flanders most important investor involved in forty new investment projects in 2018.  It is followed by the Netherlands, France and Germany.  Japan and China share joint fifth spot and are followed by Switzerland, the UK, Sweden, South Africa, Denmark and Turkey.

Half of all investments went into new projects.  Other investments involved the expansion of existing projects, takeovers and mergers.  Foreign businesses invest in production, but also in research and development and in sales and marketing. Logistics snapped up a third of the new jobs, followed by production and sales and marketing.

Major investments include the expansion of the Borealis plant a Kallo, an investment worth a million euros, and the new distribution centre in Zwijndrecht operated by Mainfreight of New Zealand.

Flemish PM Geert Bourgeois is upbeat.

"The figures show that Flanders has never been more attractive to foreign investors.  Despite international political and economic difficulties including Brexit and trade wars Flanders continues to attract investments.”

Mr Bourgeois will be pressing for further investments at the World Economic Forum in Davos this week.  The Flemish leader also says that Brexit, the UK's departure from the EU, offers opportunities to Flanders:

"We are in contact with an awful lot of US and Asian companies considering a move to Europe.  If they decide in favour of such a move we will give our all to land the investments for Flanders."

"We are well located, possess great ports and high-skilled workers.  I'm convinced our trump card is our investments in R&D.  Flanders is a leading European innovator.  Big companies are attracted by the quality of our centres of research with which they can work together."

Britain's Ineos announced it was investing 3 billion euros in two new plants in the port of Antwerp earlier this month.  "It's an excellent start to the year" says Mr Bourgeois, who will be stepping down in May.  "Thanks to this strong start my successor will be able to present even stronger figures."