Creative Industries Luxembourg
Population: 594,130 (July 2017 est.)
Capital: Luxembourg City
Internet country code: .lu
three equal horizontal bands of red (top), white, and light blue; similar to the flag of the Netherlands, which uses a darker blue and is shorter; the coloring is derived from the Grand Duke’s coat of arms (a red lion on a white and blue striped field)
Grand Duchy of Luxembourg / Groussherzogtum Lëtzebuerg
Founded in 963, Luxembourg became a grand duchy in 1815 and an independent state under the Netherlands. It lost more than half of its territory to Belgium in 1839 but gained a larger measure of autonomy. Full independence was attained in 1867. Overrun by Germany in both world wars, it ended its neutrality in 1948 when it entered into the Benelux Customs Union and when it joined NATO the following year. In 1957, Luxembourg became one of the six founding countries of the European Economic Community (later the European Union), and in 1999 it joined the euro currency area. In January 2013, Luxembourg assumed a nonpermanent seat on the UN Security Council for the 2013-14 term.
This small, stable, high-income economy has historically featured solid growth, low inflation, and low unemployment. Luxembourg, the only Grand Duchy in the world, is a landlocked country in northwestern Europe surrounded by Belgium, France, and Germany. Despite its small landmass and small population, Luxembourg is the fifth-wealthiest country in the world when measured on a gross domestic product (PPP) per capita basis. Luxembourg has one of the highest current account surpluses as a share of GDP in the euro zone, and it maintains a healthy budgetary position, with a 2017 surplus of 0.5% of GDP, and the lowest public debt level in the region.
Since 2002, Luxembourg’s government has proactively implemented policies and programs to support economic diversification and to attract foreign direct investment. The government focused on key innovative industries that showed promise for supporting economic growth: logistics, information and communications technology (ICT); health technologies, including biotechnology and biomedical research; clean energy technologies, and more recently, space technology and financial services technologies. The economy has evolved and flourished, posting strong GDP growth of 3.4% in 2017, far outpacing the European average of 1.8%.
Luxembourg remains a financial powerhouse – the financial sector accounts for more than 35% of GDP – because of the exponential growth of the investment fund sector through the launch and development of cross-border funds (UCITS) in the 1990s. Luxembourg is the world’s second-largest investment fund asset domicile, after the US, with $4 trillion of assets in custody in financial institutions.
Luxembourg has lost some of its advantage as a favorable tax location because of OECD and EU pressure, as well as the “LuxLeaks” scandal, which revealed advantageous tax treatments offered to foreign corporations. In 2015, the government’s compliance with EU requirements to implement automatic exchange of tax information on savings accounts – thus ending banking secrecy – has constricted banking activity. Likewise, changes to the way EU members collect taxes from e-commerce has cut Luxembourg’s sales tax revenues, requiring the government to raise additional levies and to reduce some direct social benefits as part of the tax reform package of 2017. The tax reform package also included reductions in the corporate tax rate and increases in deductions for families, both intended to increase purchasing power and increase competitiveness.