Although it is relatively common to be invited to a business lunch in Belgium, it is much less common to be invited out for breakfast or dinner – as Belgians tend to make a strong separation between work and private life.
Brussels can be considered to be one of the culinary capitals of the world and food plays an important role in Belgian life. Eating and drinking are not merely functional activities but should be enjoyed as one of the great pleasures of life. Therefore, try to avoid talking business during the meal unless your Belgian host raises the subject – just enjoy the experience. (If business is to be discussed over lunch, it is more likely to be raised at the coffee stage.)
It is considered to be perfectly polite to finish all the food on your plate (unlike in some Eastern cultures for example) and do not be surprised if wine and other alcoholic drinks are consumed at a business lunch – it is all part of the experience.
In Belgium all prices are quoted “all inclusive” and in theory no additional tipping is necessary.
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: