The service sector is the largest area of the Belgian economy, accounting for 72.6 percent of GDP in 2000. It is well developed and diversified. Because of its geographic position as the gateway to Europe and the government's efforts to attract foreign banking and financial companies, Belgium is now the eighth-largest financial center in the world. In 1999, there were 130 different banking companies in Belgium. Of these, 81 were Belgian and 39 were foreign-owned. The majority of the foreign-owned banks were from EU nations (23 of the 39). The implementation of EMU will make it even easier for foreign banks to establish a presence in Belgium as the members of the EU begin to use the common currency. The Belgian government encourages foreign banks to establish a presence in the kingdom. For instance, the government allows foreign banks to operate as either subsidiaries under Belgian law or to operate under the laws of the nation in which their parent bank is licensed.