Current business situation
Belgium is a small, open and private-enterprise-based economy. Its diversified industry base is mainly concentrated in Flanders in the north. As Belgium has few natural resources, it imports a large number of raw materials and exports significant quantities of manufactured goods (partly for re-exports).
Belgian business people are experienced in conducting international business. While broadly similar to Australian business practice, the Belgian approach has a higher emphasis on hierarchy and formality. It is usual that company representatives address each other by their surname. Make sure you respect this formality, particularly in a business environment.
Office and corporate wear is formal, a suit and tie for men and suits or conservative wear for women.
For meetings, especially at the executive level, approximately six weeks' notice is required. Punctuality is very important, if you are late for a meeting call ahead to advise and give as much notice as possible. The peak summer holiday months of July and August are difficult to arrange meetings. In addition, many companies shut down over the Christmas and New Year period.
Setting up in Belgium
Wallonia Investment and Trade Office and Flanders Investment and Trade have information for those considering setting up a business in Belgium.
Banking and finance
Most major banks offer both telephone and Internet banking services. For more information, visit Expatica - Banking in Belgium.
Links and resources
Government, business and trade
Belgium Ministry of Finance
EU Taxation and Customs Union
Flanders Investment & Trade
Government of Belgium (Federal Portal)
Government of Flanders
Government of Wallonia
Government of the Brussels Capital Region
Wallonia Investment and Trade Office
News and media
La Libre Belgique
Please note: This list of websites and resources is not definitive. Inclusion in this list does not imply endorsement by Austrade. The information provided is a guide only. The content is for information and carries no warranty; as such, the addressee must exercise their own discretion in its use. Australia’s anti-bribery laws apply overseas and Austrade will not provide business related services to any party who breaches the law and will report credible evidence of any breach. For further information, please see foreign bribery information and awareness pack.