1. Foreign investments in Belgium
This section was prepared in collaboration between the Federal Public Service (FPS) Foreign Affairs and the Liaison Cell Federal-Regions Foreign Investments. The Liaison Cell was created in 1995 as a result of the Cooperation Agreement “Foreign Investments” of 7 February 1995. Its mission is to raise important issues concerning the investment climate in Belgium to policy makers, and create synergies between all the Belgian authorities involved in the attraction of foreign investments. The following authorities are represented in the Cell: FPS Foreign Affairs, FPS Economy, FPS Finance, Flanders Investment and Trade (FIT), Agence wallonne à l’Exportation (AWEX), the Brussels Enterprise Agency (BEA) and the Ministry of the Brussels-Capital Region. Its chair is held by the Regions on a rotating basis and its secretariat is ensured by the FPS Economy.
Secretariat of the Liaison Cell
Vooruitgangstraat 50 rue du Progrès
tel : 02/277.69.13
VATREFUND – foreign VAT refunds: extension of the deadline for the year 2009
Since 1 January 2010 a new procedure is applicable for VAT refunds to taxpayers residing in another EU Member State. The requests for refunds must be introduced (a) in the Member State where the applicant resides and (b) at the latest on 30 September of the calendar year following the period of refunding. For the period of refunding 2009, the deadline expired in principle on 30 September 2010.
In a press release of 13 October 2010, the Belgian Administration informed that the deadline for applications for refunds for 2009 has been extended: “The time of deposit with regard to the requests for refunds of the VAT paid by taxpayers residing in a Member State other than the one in charge of the refund, is extended with six months, i.e., until 31 March 2011 included. The regulation will be adapted with retroactive effect to 1 October 2010”.
Pfizer to invest € 61 million in Belgian sites
The American pharmaceutical company Pfizer has decided to invest €61 million in its Belgian sites, located in Zaventem and Puurs. The investment is expected to result in the creation of 170 new jobs. Pfizer today employs almost 3,000 people in our country.
The first investment project involves the construction of a new production centre in Puurs, where a new type of syringe with two chambers will be manufactured. A pilot plant for vaccines and aseptic medicines will also be established in Puurs. This concerns relatively modest volumes of seven new medicines that are currently still undergoing phase III clinical trials – the one but last step before these medicines can be brought to market. Finally, some replacement and modernisation investments will also be made in the existing production infrastructure.
In Zaventem a new research unit for veterinary medicine will be established. Moreover, the activities of the research center for veterinary medicine in Sandwich (UK) will be transferred to Zaventem completely.
Chinese group Wuhan Guide Infrared opens branch in Leuven
Chinese company Wuhan Guide Infrared, producer of infrared cameras, will be opening its subsidiary Eunir Systems in the innovation and incubation centre in Heverlee (province of Flemish Brabant). Initially, marketing, sales and service will be set up in Heverlee. Research and assembly will also be transferred in a year.
The cameras based on infrared technology are used for a variety of applications, such as tracking defects in electricity cables, medical applications or checking production, oil pipelines, buildings and border-crossing points.
The Chinese company chose Heverlee as a European operating base because of its central and accessible location, the presence of a research and production atmosphere in numerous sectors and the humanistic and scientific climate of the University of Leuven, the K.U. Leuven.
Scandinavian Tobacco Group opens new cigar factory in Lummen
Scandinavian Tobacco Group, with headquarters in Denmark, has opened a new branch in Lummen (Limburg province). The investment is worth €32.5 million.
With a capacity of one billion cigars and cigarillos per year, this is the largest cigar factory in Europe. Many brands are being produced in Lummen, such as Café Crème, Mercator, Colts, Captain Black and Old Port.
Beside the cigar factory the branch in Lummen will also accommodate the “Marketing and Sales”-department of Scandinavian Tobacco Group Benelux.
Dutch company XSPlatforms opens regional office in Ghent
Dutch company XSPlatforms, a developer and manufacturer of scaffolds, building maintenance units, suspended platform systems, fall protection ledges, etc, has recently opened a new office in the city of Ghent.
This office will provide the complete product range of XSPlatforms but will initially focus on fall protection and building maintenance units.
Dow Corning to invest $ 45 million in Feluy
American company Dow Corning Corp. will invest $ 45 million to build a new energy-efficient distribution centre in Feluy (Hainaut province). Dow Corning is a global leader in silicones, silicone-based technology and innovation, and offers more than 7,000 products and services to customers in the construction, automotive, cosmetics, solar and other industries, among others.
This 32,000 m² new facility will enable Dow Corning to better serve its customers in Europe and the Middle-East.
It is the group’s second investment in Belgium this year. Earlier on, it had decided to invest $ 13 million for the construction of two new buildings for R&D in Seneffe (also in Hainaut province).
British Burberry opens first boutique in Brussels
The trademark tartan brand Burberry has opened its first boutique in Brussels, adding to its one other shop in Belgium (Antwerp) opened in 2007.
For its arrival into the Belgian capital, Burberry has taken up residence on the prestigious Boulevard de Waterloo. The new store covering 230 m² incorporates a unifying concept that has been introduced into the brand’s other shops by Creative Director Christopher Bailey. Intrinsically British materials and themes are used throughout in a contemporary way. The store also features state of the art technology including a high definition LED video wall.
As far as the product offering, most of the womenswear and menswear lines will be available. All this becomes complete with the addition of accessories, perfumes, watches and glasses.
Louis Vuitton opens European customer service in Brussels
French luxury brand group LVMH has opened its new European customer service for Louis Vuitton, the group’s best known brand, in Brussels. In this service centre, customers can call in and e-mail questions. Currently, Louis Vuitton is serving 11 European countries from its Brussels-based customer service. Other countries will follow over the next two years: the Scandinavian countries, Russia, Turkey and Greece.
According to Roberto Eggs, who is responsible for Louis Vuitton in Northern Europe, the choice of Brussels was based on the central location of our capital, the availability of qualified and multilingual workforces and the wide choice of relatively cheap office space.
Sixty people will work in the service centre.
Microsoft establishes Innovation Center in Brussels
The government of the Brussels Capital Region gave its approval on 2 September 2010 for the public-private partnership project with Microsoft to set up a Microsoft Innovation Centre (MIC) in the Brussels Region.
The MIC provides regional economic development instruments that aim to simplify the establishment of companies in technological sectors and to follow-up the development of these starting companies. There are currently 110 MICs worldwide, 30 of which are in Europe. In Belgium, a MIC was set up in Bergen in March 2009 that focuses on technology for health and welfare.
The MIC Brussels will focus on:
- the incubation period and support of new start-ups in fast-growing areas like cloud computing and SaaS, two fields in which several Brussels-based SMEs are well positioned;
- training entrepreneurs and job seekers in the Brussels Capital Region by, for instance, granting certificates that are often also recognised abroad.
The Brussels-based structure, which should be operational in 2011, is jointly financed for an equal amount by the Brussels Capital Region and all private partners. The total annual budget is estimated at 500,000 euro.
Hopefully, the project will create 10 businesses and 50 direct jobs annually. The annual aim is 150 certificates.
INEOS Oxide to build ethylene tank terminal in Antwerp port
INEOS Oxide, part of the UK INEOS Group of companies, is a leading producer of Ethylene Oxide and Ethylene Oxide Derivatives, Propylene Oxide and Propylene Oxide Derivatives, plus a range of solvents and specialty chemicals.
INEOS Oxide has decided to expand its site in Antwerp’s docklands with a brand new ethylene tank terminal, which will have a capacity of 1 million tonnes per year and significantly re-shape the ethylene market in Europe.
Once completed, the new INEOS terminal will be connected directly to INEOS' ethylene consuming facilities and to other sites in Europe, and in particular in Germany, via the ARG ethylene pipeline (formerly Aethylen-Rohrleitungs-Gesellschaft pipeline) which links Antwerp to Cologne and the Ruhr industrial areas. Operations at the new terminal are expected to begin in 2012.
Swiss pharmaceutical concern Roche partners with Belgian biotech firm reMYND
Leuven-based biotech company reMYND researches new treatments that slow the effects of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Swiss pharma concern Roche will now finance the entire development of two of reMYND’s experimental drugs. Roche has agreed to the strategic partnership despite the fact that the development of the drugs still has a long way to go. It will take at least another ten years to test them.
reMYND had its pick between a lot of big international pharma players who were lining up for a possible partnership. The reason for this were the results of the lab tests which indicated that reMYND's two experimental drugs significantly slow the neurodegeneration which lay at the base of Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases.
Janssen establishes its European distribution centre for pharmaceuticals in La Louvière
Representatives of Janssen and Johnson & Johnson have laid the foundation of Janssen’s new European distribution centre for pharmaceuticals in La Louvière (Hainaut province).
The new logistics centre will, together with three satellite centres, centralise the activities of the current 15 centres. It will reduce the number of steps in the chain, with medicines going directly from the factories – Beerse (Belgium), Latina (Italy) and Schaffhausen (Switzerland) – to the European distribution centre, from which they will go directly to the customer.
The new distribution centre will become operational in early 2012, and is expected to employ 100 - 135 people when fully operational in 2013.
The centre will have an overall operational surface of 25,000 m², with the option of extending the facilities over a further area of 10,000 m². It will be built on a site with a total area of 70,000 m², with an additional 28,000 m² available for expansion. The European distribution centre will supply its goods directly to purchasers in eleven European countries, and to Johnson & Johnson subsidiaries throughout the rest of the world: activities could amount to up to 40,000 shipments for a total of 385,000 orders a year.
Synergies will be created between the new distribution centre and the European Distribution Centre of the Medical Devices & Diagnostics Division in Courcelles, near La Louvière, which was opened by Johnson & Johnson in 2007. Both units will operate as a single logistics centre, under one management.
Liege Airport is the new European hub for global cargo carrier Avient Aviation
Brand-new long-haul cargo company Avient SA/ NV will be operating from Liege Airport this autumn. The first MD-11F aircraft to fly the flag for Wallonia made its maiden voyage in October. UK-based Avient Aviation launched the new airline, specialising in African routes, after moving its European base from northern France to Wallonia.
Belgium offers many advantages, according to Arthur White, the new company’s director of operations and start-up project manager. “First of all, Liege is a strategic location with excellent road links to Paris, Amsterdam and Germany. The airport is forward-thinking and offers us flexibility and the possibility of expansion. Belgium also has around 200 bilateral route agreements in place providing potentially new routes, while the benefits of operating from Wallonia include a reduction in social charges, assistance with training as well as a pool of skilled pilots and workers.”
A second MD-11 is planned for February while the two-year forecast is to have a total of six or seven aircraft on the books, including A300s or B-767s as well as the Boeing McDonnell Douglas’s. While the primary niche market is Africa, Avient Aviation’s operating base is Zimbabwe, the new Belgian company will also be targeting business in South America and other worldwide destinations.
Avient plans to use Liege to connect Africa with the Middle and Far East, thereby serving a worldwide market, and to capitalize on the airport’s positive attitude to encouraging new business.
2. Contracts abroad for Belgian companies
Barco and AHL Group Technology commence cinema roll-out in Australia, New Zealand, Germany and United Arab Emirates
Barco, a global leader in digital cinema technology with headquarters in Kortrijk (province of West-Vlaanderen), has entered into an agreement with the Australian company Amalgamated Holdings Limited (AHL) for the exclusive supply of its new DP2K projectors in Australia, New Zealand, Germany and the United Arab Emirates.
Under the terms of the agreement, Amalgamated Holdings Limited (AHL) will install 150 digital cinema projectors in 2010, with a planned expansion to a total of 1,100 screens world-wide over the next three to four years.
AHL is the fifth largest cinema exhibitor in the world with close to 65 million admissions per year.
Supporting 2D and 3D projection, Barco's six new DP2K projectors represent, by far, the most complete projector family available today. In addition to advances in software, diagnostics and patented cooling technology, all DP2K projectors include enhanced security features as mandated by the Digital Cinema Initiative (DCI). All of Barco's digital cinema projectors are based on the pioneering DLP Cinema® technology from Texas Instruments, guaranteeing perfect reproduction of film, time and time again, and ensuring that movie-goers enjoy the highest quality film experience with consistent picture brightness, contrast and vibrant colors.
Belgian companies team up to make U2 ‘360°’ Tour worldwide success
On 22 and 23 September the King Baudouin stadium in Brussels welcomed the world famous Irish rock band U2. The shows were part of theU2 “360°” Tour, which started on 30 June 2009 in Camp Nou in Barcelona and will go on until the summer of 2011.
Both the spectacular stage and the transformable LED screen were made in Belgium. Belgian companies StageCo, Tait Technologies, XL Video and Barco have an important share in the mind-blowing show of the Irish rock band.
The giant stage, a structure resembling a spider or a space ship, was created by StageCo. Born out of supplying stages for the renowned Rock Werchter Festival in Belgium in 1985, this Belgian company is now one of the most prominent international staging companies in the world. Through more than 25 years of experience, StageCo has become the worldwide pioneer and trendsetter in designing and building custom-made as well as standardized concert stages and temporary structures for all kind of events. Beside U2, AC/DC, Bon Jovi, Bruce Springsteen and the Rolling Stones are clients of StageCo’s.
Tait Technologies was responsible for the innovative design of the transformable LED screen – a screen that in effect “shape-shifts” from a 3-dimensional elliptical shape into the shape of a 3D cone.
Barco was in charge of manufacturing the enormous LED screen. The 360° screen consists of half a million FLX-24 LED pixels, integrated into a transformable structure. The FLX-24 consists of individually controllable, compact, high quality LED pixel modules that can be combined with a wide variety of specifically designed carriers (mechanical structures) to construct any possible shape.
Barco closely cooperated with XL Video, a leading rental supplier of video display systems with indoor and outdoor LED screens as well as having one of the largest fleets of high-brightness projectors. XL Video was instrumental in the realization of the amazing screen, by firstly investing in the LED pixels and subsequently by renting them out to Live Nation, the tour organizer. For the whole duration of the tour, a fourteen men strong XL Video team, recognized for their experience and expertise, joins U2 on the road, turning every show into a visually stunning spectacle, with support of Barco. In addition to the LED screen and crew, XL Video also provides the sophisticated 12-camera system together with all video-control equipment in order to deliver content for the screen.
After Brussels, the U2 « 360° » Tour will continue in Spain, Portugal and Italy, and then in 2011 in Canada and the United States. Also a world tour for Belgian know-how and creativity.
Acrosoma provides composite structures for new Airbus
The Acrosoma company in Lokeren (province of East Flanders) will be providing horizontal transport tools (HTT) for European airplane builder Airbus, which will be used to transport and correctly position airplane parts. These composite structures, which are 33m long and 8m wide, will be used for the construction of the future Airbus A350 XWB. For the construction, Acrosoma used special three-dimensional sandwich technology that was entirely developed in Flanders.
Composites are extremely light, but meet all requirements to replace high-grade steel. Two frames have now been built.
Jan De Nul signs contract with Peruvian Government
Dredging company Jan De Nul has signed a contract with the Peruvian Government to further deepen the access channel to the port of Callao.
The scope of works consists in deepening the port from current 14 meters to 16 meters, converting Callao in one of the deepest container and general cargo ports on the Latin American Pacific Coast. Due to the deepening works, Jan De Nul will also need to widen the entrance mouth of the breakwater.
The US $61 million project will be completed in approximately 196 days and will involve the use of various hopper dredgers.
This latest contract in Peru is a continuation of Jan De Nul Group’s presence in the country since 2006 and results in a continued and growing presence on the Pacific Coast of Latin America.
Tibotec has developed new HIV/AIDS medicine
Pharmaceutical company Tibotec, subsidiary of Janssen Pharmaceutics, wants to bring a new HIV/AIDS drug on the market. The product, which is currently known as TMC 278, is the last drug developed by Paul Janssen, the founder of Janssen Pharmaceutics, who died in 2003. It took seven years to perfect and test the drug.
According to a spokesperson of American pharmaceutical group Johnson & Johnson, the parent company of Janssen Pharmaceutics and Tibotec, this drug is a major step towards considerably prolonging the life expectancy of patients. The medicine, a pill that only needs to be taken once a day and has no side effects, which immediately and strongly attack the AIDS virus, can also be prescribed to pregnant women.
Tibotec has submitted a request to market the drug at the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Medicines Agency (EMEA). Hopefully, the product will be available in Europe in the autumn of 2011. The drug could also help combat AIDS in developing countries, particularly in Africa.
3. General economic information about Belgium
Brussels ranked fourth best European city for business
Brussels came in fourth place in the annual ranking of best European cities for business that has been compiled by the real estate consultancy Cushman & Wakefield for the past 21 years.
Cushman & Wakefield creates the ranking on the basis of a survey of 500 company managers. The criteria surveyed include access to the market, the consumers and customers, availability and quality of personnel, quality of the telecommunications and accessibility from other cities and countries.
Belgian commercial rents prove highly competitive
According to the annual study Main Streets Across the World by real estate specialists Cushman & Wakefield the retail rents in Belgium are exceptionally competitive.
In comparison with other major international cities, Brussels remains highly attractive as a base for international brands. And it’s true, the average rent price in the Nieuwstraat/Rue Neuve in Brussels, Belgium’s most expensive commercial Street, is 1,625 euros per m² per year, which is significantly lower than the rates in New York, London or Paris.
The Nieuwstraat/Rue Neuve in Brussels, commanding the top rents in Belgium, is ranked 29th among the most expensive shopping streets worldwide. The most expensive street in the world is Fifth Avenue in New York, where rents average 16,257 euros per m² per year.
"Because of the extremely competitive rental prices in Belgium, and the stability and overall low cost of our rents in comparison with other European capital cities, Belgium continues to function as a test market for major international brands", according to Cushman & Wakefield Belgium.
Port of Antwerp awarded prize in London
Antwerp Port Authority was named Port Operator of the Year at the annual Lloyd’s List Awards in London.
The jury clearly appreciated the efforts made by Antwerp Port Authority to maintain the highest standards of operation and customer service, even during the past difficult months.
Antwerp took the award in its category ahead of three other nominees: APM terminals, Krishnapatnam Port Company from India and PD Ports from the UK.
Brussels Airport wins World Routes Airport Marketing Award 2010
Brussels Airport was elected best European airport at the annual World Routes conference. This World Routes Award recognizes airports that excelled in air service development and airline marketing activities. Brussels Airport previously won this award in 2008, and ranked top three in 2009. This year Brussels Airport was awarded the first place.
Airports are nominated by vote of the airlines. A jury of airlines and aviation experts then appoints the winner on the basis of the supporting material sent in by the nominated airports.
At the European Routes conference, which takes place every year in May, Brussels Airport also won the Award for best airport in Europe for the second year in a row (2009 and 2010).
Janssen Pharmaceutica sur le premier plan chez Johnson & Johnson
Janssen Pharmaceutica, leader belge du monde pharmaceutique, a toujours joué un rôle clé dans la découverte de nouveaux médicaments. Récemment, une licence a été demandée tant auprès de l’UE qu’aux Etats-Unis pour un nouveau médicament contre le SIDA. De plus, le géant pharmaceutique américain Johnson & Johnson (J&J), société mère de Janssen Pharmaceutica depuis 1961, a décidé de commercialiser tous ses produits pharmaceutiques sous le nom de ‘Janssen’.
Ce changement de nom constitue une reconnaissance symbolique du travail et de l’héritage médical du fondateur de Janssen Pharmaceutica, le docteur Paul Janssen. D’un point de vue commercial, ce nouveau nom augmentera également la transparence. Le groupe américain possède actuellement huit sociétés vendant des médicaments.