Government reforms subsidies for international businesses

Summary

Changes have been agreed to the way subsidies are granted for companies in Flanders looking to do business abroad

Region ‘lives by its exports’

The government of Flanders has approved changes to the system of granting subsidies for companies to help them do business abroad.

The changes include reducing the number of subsidy instruments from eight to four. The government’s foreign trade agency, Flanders Investment & Trade (FIT), is given a two-track role. FIT will provide generic support for four activities: exploratory trips outside the European Economic Area, participation in foreign trade shows and niche events, setting up an overseas prospecting office and creating product documentation and digital communications material.

The second track concerns project-oriented financing applied for by companies, enterprise groups and chambers of commerce on a case-by-case basis, with a special interest in growth countries and developing economies.

According to Claire Tillekaerts, director-general of FIT, research by the University of Leuven has shown that businesses that receive export subsidy sell on average 20% more than those that go it alone.

“Flanders lives from its exports,” said minister-president Geert Bourgeois, whose portfolio also includes foreign relations. “The FIT subsidies for international enterprise are hugely popular with Flemish exporters. To use the available resources more effectively in the future, we have worked out a new subsidy system with particular emphasis on beginner exporters and growth economies.”

FIT is planning a series of information evenings to explain the new rules, in Hasselt (23 March), Ghent (13 April), Antwerp (3 May) and Bruges (2 June).

Photo: Flemish representatives at an overseas trade fair last year
©Courtesy Flanders Investment & Trade

Flanders Investment & Trade

Flanders Investment & Trade (Fit) is the Flemish government agency for international enterprise. It represents the region to the world’s investors.
In and out - Fit assists Flemish companies in their business ventures abroad, and helps foreign companies set up shop in the region.
Export Lion - Each year, Fit awards an “Export Lion” to two Flemish companies with exceptional export achievements.
Merger - Fit was born from the merger of the former Flanders Foreign Investment Office and Export Vlaanderen.
90

offices around the world

60

percent of EU purchasing power lying within a 600km radius of Flanders

2 005

year created