02 October 2014

If the Belgian government is serious about stimulating economic activity – with all the positive effects that will bring for growth and employment in Belgium – then it must take steps to shore up competitiveness and to boost investment and enhance entrepreneurship. After all, Belgian companies need to be able to compete on foreign markets on the same terms as their competitors, that is the bottom line.

International trade has moved up a gear in recent decades. Trade in goods and services has become more intensive, and a company’s reference framework is no longer the domestic market but the world market. In this vein, businesses setting up international operations are creating a new dynamic which is enabling change to come about even faster still – in terms not only of the design, development & manufacture of goods and services, but also of the marketing of them. What is more, it is becoming more and more difficult to put together the entire value chain under one’s own steam. Increasingly, specific clusters are springing up around particular segments of activity in which both partners (suppliers) and competitors are operating. Companies which become a part of these networks will be able to tap into more talent, drive down wage costs and stimulate innovation, to name just a few benefits. In short, any business wanting to optimise its own development and growth needs to look beyond its national borders and view doing business from a global perspective.

In this context, business managers need to seize any and all opportunities that come their way. For many companies, doing business internationally is no longer an optional extra but an absolute prerequisite for future growth. If a business is to survive in today’s modern, fast-changing world it needs to be able to continually reinvent itself, and observe the following motto: “Don’t wait for a miracle, make one!”

However, moving from the domestic market into the global one is never straightforward. The journey is fraught with problems: administrative formalities, risk management, HR management, access to financing and so forth, not to mention the cultural differences involved, which are difficult to objectify. Every business looking to expand abroad needs to ascertain what the most appropriate strategy is going to be: export only, direct investment in a foreign country, working with partners, or something else – all while keeping in mind the fundamental difference between international trading in products, and that in services.

Brochure doing business internationally

In this brochure, experts will help you on your way and will answer many of the questions a company thinking of expanding internationally is likely to have. In addition, seven entrepreneurs share their know-how of international trade and their practical experience of doing business internationally. We hope their stories will provide inspiration for your own foreign expansion plans.