A Guide to Doing Business in Luxembourg & Belgium

Belgian and Luxembourg Market Insights

Market Overview

Belgium

Has a population of over 11 million people, a GDP of around €371 billion and is a significant European market. In addition, its unique position at the heart of Europe, both in political terms and as a transport hub, can offer significant strategic opportunities for Irish exporters.

Luxembourg

With a small population of just over 580,000 and GDP of more than €44 billion, is a highly advanced economy with a competitive business environment. The second smallest EU Member State, it is home to a number of European institutions including the European Court of Justice, Court of Auditors, Investment Bank and the General Secretariat of the European Parliament.

Belgium

1.8% Predicted Economic Growth for 2018

€371 Billion GDP

11 Million Population

Luxembourg

3.9% Economic Growth for 2017

€44 Billion GDP

580,000 Population

Get Export Ready

BELGIUM – Belgium is a highly industrialised, competitive and open market, with an advanced economy. This is the result of improved competitiveness and modest employment growth which is supporting household spending.

Thanks to its success in attracting foreign direct investment in previous decades, Belgium is home to a large number of US and Asian multinationals. More than 300 multinational HQs are located between Brussels and Antwerp, which is Belgium’s biggest and Europe’s second biggest port. Belgian companies are deeply integrated in the global economy, trading actively in intermediate goods. This trading profile is supported by its central location in the European continent and its well developed transportation network.

LUXEMBOURG – Luxembourg’s economy is a global finance and insurance hub. The three official languages of Luxembourg are Luxembourgish, French and German, although proficiency in English is widespread.

Strong economic growth and a favourable business climate make it an attractive place for doing business. Luxembourg’s economy has displayed strong growth with the highly developed financial services sector driving much of this. Every day sees around 150,000 people commute to work in Luxembourg from surrounding countries. The country has state-of-the-art road, rail and air transport facilities and services. It is ranked 14th on the global importers’ list, with the main imports including raw materials, machinery and equipment, chemicals, pharmaceuticals and foodstuffs.

Key Market Sectors

As Brexit plans progress, Irish businesses are exploring export options in sectors across the Eurozone markets, the USA and Canada and APAC region.

Enterprise Ireland is playing a key role in supporting ambitious companies seeking opportunities in Belgium’s biotech, automotive and pharma sectors, and Luxembourg’s transport, information technology and communication sectors.

Additionally, agrifood, aerospace, environment, transport and ICT continue to perform and add appeal to Irish exporters and service providers who want to scale, and develop a presence in the Belgian market.

Read more on Belgium and Luxembourg’s sectoral successes in our Going Global Guides.

  • Belgium is Europe’s second largest pharmaceuticals manufacturer.
  • 300+ multinational headquarters are located between Brussels and Antwerp.
  • Luxembourg is ranked 14th on the Global Importers’ List.

Doing Business

In advance of any meeting, ask what language will be spoken. It displays a sensitivity that your prospects will appreciate. Arrange an interpreter if necessary.

While English is widely spoken in both countries, be sensitive to Belgium’s regional cultural differences, and check if a prospective client is a French or Flemish speaker. French and German are official languages but locals will often break out of these in meetings to speak to one another in Luxembourgish.

The business culture is hierarchical, so it’s important to show proper respect and deference to people who have attained positions of rank.

Best Routes to Market

Choosing the right route to market is very important.

Agents bring a deep understanding of local business practices and distributors can deliver products geographically across large nations. Joint ventures and acquisitions bring valuable established contacts, customers and market knowledge. Local representatives may not always be necessary with many global markets open to direct sales and prospecting from Ireland. Other markets require a ‘boots on the ground’ approach – the power of referrals and networking shouldn’t be underestimated.

The key routes to market in Belgium and Luxembourg are through direct sales, agents, partnerships, distributors and joint ventures. Download our Going Global Guides to Belgium and Luxembourg to find out more.

Before You Go

Before you go, we recommend you invest some time in researching the terrain before you explore the Belgian and Luxembourg markets. Here’s a few starting points to consider…

  1. Market Landscape
  2. Market Trends
  3. Target Market
  4. Market Segmentation
  5. Market Competition
  6. Market Research Resources

Enterprise Ireland’s Market Research Centre offers client companies access to market intelligence in the form of company, sector, market, and country information to explore opportunities and compete in international markets.

Helping You Succeed

We are committed to helping you succeed in global markets and have an immense wealth of knowledge and expertise in the Belgian and Luxembourg market.

Enterprise Ireland assists clients entering new markets with pre-visit support, in-market support, international trade events, additional supports and access to mentors.

Our Market Advisors are always available to support you and provide business expertise and on-the-ground knowledge.

Belgium & Luxembourg
Patrick Torrekens

Email
patrick.torrekens@enterprise-ireland.com

Address
Enterprise Ireland Brussels Office
Sablon Tower
Rue Joseph Stevens 7
Jozef Stevensstraat, 1000 Bruxelles,
Belgium

Telephone
00 32 (0)2 673 9866
00 32 474 842 787