UKTI country profile – Belgium
Wouter Debeyne, senior trade adviser at the British Embassy Brussels outlines the opportunities companies can learn more about at Explore Export.
1) What would be your advice to East of England businesses looking to do business in Belgium for the first time?
• Not many people know this, but Belgium is the UK’s sixth largest export market and it is one of Europe’s most dynamic centres of trade, industry and innovation. Belgium is an ideal test market as it is wealthy, nearby, strategically located in the heart of Europe, English is widely spoken and it is relatively easy to do business. But it is also a mature market with demanding customers and healthy competition. Therefore it is important to prepare yourself and remain realistic.
2) Why is now a good time for East of England firms to be looking to do business in your market?
• The short and obvious answer to this is that there’s never a bad time to be exporting.
• If you are selling domestically and sales are good, now is the time to start exporting. You can strengthen your company by diversifying into international markets and the Benelux is the ideal starter market because it is nearby, open, wealthy and people speak English.
• It does not always make sense to start with huge and risky markets. With a population of 27,500,000 in an area the size of Scotland, the Benelux is one of the most densely populated regions in the world. The Benelux is the UK’s second largest export market and is one of Europe’s most dynamic centres of trade, industry and innovation. It is an ideal test market and is strategically located in the heart of Europe with excellent transport links. English is an accepted business language, so there are no language barriers.
• The Benelux region offers great opportunities to British companies in a number of sectors and is an ideal starter market for new exporters. The region has open and prosperous economies, with long standing trade and cultural relationships with the UK. It is the gateway to the rest of Europe.
3) What are the key opportunities for East of England companies looking to approach your markets?
• The Benelux markets are very open and diversified with opportunities in nearly all sectors. The UKTI teams have identified key opportunities in the following sectors:
For Belgium the key opportunities are in: • Chemicals• Creative & media • Information & Communications Technologies• Energy • Food & Drink • Giftware• Healthcare & Medical• Security
4) For companies coming to explore your market what sort of support can you offer to help them develop their exports in your market?
• If you are ready to take the next step we can provide a combination of free and chargeable services to UK companies, helping you to better understand the opportunities in the Benelux. We do bespoke market research, organise events, and can put you in contact with potential clients or distributors. These services are offered by a team of experienced trade officers working on export promotion across Belgium and Luxembourg. They know the local markets, the business sectors and speak the local languages.