Given its relatively modest size (both in terms of population and geography), Belgium is incredibly successful. It is one of the most successful exporting nations in the world resulting in an extremely positive balance of payments position. Belgium’s success could be said to be the result of its geographic position at the heart of Europe, a highly educated, diligent workforce and the good fortune to be the epi-centre of the European Union. Whatever the reasons, Belgium is a country with a lot to offer any business looking to expand globally.
If you are thinking of doing business in Belgium it would be a very good idea to do some in-depth research on the country in advance for, although Belgium is economically strong, it is very much a country divided along regional lines. There is much talk of the strong divisions which are felt between the Flemish speakers of the north and their southern Wallonia compatriots in the south. These divisions run deep and present existential questions about the continued viability of the country. It is wise to have some understanding of these issues before approaching would-be contacts in-country.
If you are thinking of doing business in Belgium you need to know how these regional divisions influence Belgian business culture. In fact, is there such a thing as a ‘Belgian’ business culture or are there in effect two distinct and separate business cultures? Is there a consistent approach to communication across the country, and if not, what impacts do any differences have on meetings and negotiating? Belgium is complex – can the world-famous Belgian approach to compromise be of assistance? Knowledge and understanding are key so do some research up-front.
This country profile provides an overview of some of the key aspects of Belgian business culture in a concise, easy to follow-format. The document includes information on:
Written and Produced by Keith Warburton
This country profile has been produced to give a short overview of some of the key concepts to bear in mind when doing business with contacts in Belgium. It is intended to be an aid to business people who have commercial dealings with counterparties in the country but should not be seen as an exhaustive guide to this topic or as a substitute for more substantial research should there be a need.
With this in mind, we have covered the areas which are key to a better understanding of the cultural mindset underpinning business dealings in Belgium and which are, quite often, extremely different from the approach and thought processes associated with business in other parts of the world.
Therefore this briefing note is broken into short, bite-sized sections on the following topics: