The impact of Covid-19 on Belgian companies abroad

From June 22 until July 17, we ran a survey through the Belgian-Luxembourg Chambers of Commerce abroad about the impact of the covid-19 pandemic on their members. Though the number of replies do not allow us to make an in-depth analysis and comparison between different countries, we certainly can draw some important conclusions:

  • On the question what measures they took to limit the impact of the crisis, the use of telework and temporary staff reduction (with or without wage compensation by the government) were the obvious winners, but 1 in 4 companies also indicated to have changed its product line or its business model.
  • Change of business model scores high as well on the question how the covid-19 pandemic will change their company (1 in 3 respondents), often spurred by a faster integration of digital tools.
  • Members have some clear expectations from their chamber, with the sharing of good practices coming out on top. Peer learning is the unique selling proposition of chambers of commerce, and it is no different in this crisis. Entrepreneurs look to other entrepreneurs for ideas, to know what works (or does not work) and chambers are in an ideal position to facilitate this exchange of experiences.
  • Not unexpectedly, companies are looking for new business contacts. 41% of the respondents based in Belgium and even 48% of those based abroad want their chamber to assist them in this search. An online platform like CONNECTS, used by several chambers already, could certainly prove valuable in this respect.
  • Members also look to chambers to help them lobby for and access business support measures.
  • On the question when they expect their business to be back at the pre-corona level, 30% believe that this could be the case by the end of this year, with a further 50% seeing a full recovery by the end of 2021. Companies based abroad are slightly more positive than companies based in Belgium.

You will find a breakdown of the survey responses in this presentation. This survey was conducted before the current increase in the number of cases, which means that some responses must be interpreted with caution. However, we believe that these findings will remain valid, even if we are faced with a significant second wave.