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Business culture in Belgium

Belgium is a "relational economy" and Belgians prefer to do business with people they know.

Relation economy

Meetings are often a necessary and formal part of Belgian business culture

Belgians tend to socialize during a shorter period before the business meeting commences, and an initial meeting can quite often be of a more social than commercial nature in addition Belgians prefer to do business with people they know 

Belgians prefer subtlety to directness, in the belief that subtlety does reflect intelligence

Belgians perceive it to be rude to be confrontational

Belgians usually speak good English which facilitates business relations

Longer decisions-making processes

Belgians are often engaged in long, critical discussions before they reach an agreement in order to be sure they have considered all alternatives

Doing business in Belgium can from a Swedish perspective be seen as fairly bureaucratic. The business processes have a tendency to involve more procedures and more red tape than in Sweden

Cultural complexity

It is recommended to have one side of your business card translated into French and the other one into Dutch. It shows respect and an understanding of the language heritage of Belgium

Innovation and openness

If you have meetings in both the Flemish and French speaking part of the country make sure to present the side with the relevant language on it.