BELGIUM is known in Slovakia mainly through its investments in banking and finance. However, more and more Belgian companies – particularly small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) – are spreading into various fields of business in Slovakia.
“Belgian companies are showing a growing interest in Slovakia and diversification trends are evident, for example in investments in the machinery engineering industry and others,” said Lucia Harabinová, trade commissioner at the trade office for the Wallonia, Flanders and Brussels Regions at the Belgian Embassy.
Currently, Belgian SMEs operate in many different branches across Slovakia, including machinery, construction, assembly, transport, printing, information and communication technologies, food and beverages, confectionery, interior decoration, clothing industry, consultancy, audit and accountancy.
Belgian businesspeople regard Slovakia as a country with good prospects due to its growing economy, good location in Central Europe, qualified and skilled labour force, high productivity and, last but not least, its advantageous flat tax rate, added Harabinová.
However, abundant bureaucracy is still one of the largest obstacles to doing business in Slovakia, according to Belgian entrepreneurs.
The trade office considers the development of cooperation among SMEs from the two countries as one of its priorities. “Cooperation focuses mainly on the metal processing and chemical sectors,” Harabinová said.
Various trade missions, international trade shows and sector-based contact days organised by the trade mission for Belgian SMEs have attracted a growing interest.
The most recent Multi-sector Economic and Trade Mission on June 4 in Bratislava was attended by twenty entrepreneurs from all three regions of Belgium.
“We believe that the mission will render equal benefits to Belgian as well as Slovak parties in the near future,” Harabinová told The Slovak Spectator. The growing number of individual missions by Belgian companies to Slovakia is also proof of their interest in the country, she added.
Belgian trade with Slovakia
Belgian exports to Slovakia amounted to €521.84 million in the first 9 months of 2007, a year-on-year increase of 21.6 percent.
Belgian imports from Slovakia stood at €449.51 million in the same period, an increase of 66.2 percent, resulting in a negative trade balance for Slovakia of €72.33 million.
23. Jun 2008 at 0:00 | Marta Ďurianová