Nieuwsbericht

Mededeling van 16-06-2017

Closing Remarks - Investment Power Lunch – Busan

June 16th, 2017


- - - the spoken word alone prevails - - -

 

[Introduction]

Your Royal Highness,

Excellences,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We are approaching the end of this already very successful economic mission, headed by HRH Princess Astrid. We definitely got the most out of the past days, by meeting so many new people, discussing numerous ideas and projects and by laying strong foundations for further cooperation and trade. The Republic of Korea and the Kingdom of Belgium are true partners and allies and this country is a fine example of what can be achieved when everyone strives for a common goal. Indeed, you live up to the national motto of Belgium: “Unity makes Strength”, as your prosperity is due to your close economic cooperation.

 

[Bilateral Trade and Investments]

Your Royal Highness,

Excellences,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

A lot of Belgian companies have very successful activities in Korea, including here in Busan, Korea’s busiest port and one of the largest container ports in the world. Leading Korean companies also have major investments and activities in Belgium. Yet, despite the importance of these mutual investments, their number could be much bigger, given the under exploited opportunities for Korean companies to invest in Belgium and vice versa.

 

This is why we are here at this Investment Power Lunch,  together with a selection of Belgium’s finest companies and innovators. Korea and Belgium already being very close, we need to get to know each other even better and show the many assets that we can offer to investors.

 

I thank the various speakers who elaborated on the many economic strengths of our country. Both Korea and Belgium fully depend on international trade, having some of the most open economies in the world, which are totally geared towards exports. The foundation of our thriving and competitive economies is our strategic location. The Port of Busan is a vital gateway for Korea, connecting the country to the Pacific Ocean, Asia, and the rest of the world. The Belgian port of Zeebrugge continues to grow at an incredible speed, the port of Ghent always lives up to its motto “large enough to cope, small enough to care”. Antwerp, Europe’s second largest port and one of the largest in the world, continues to break records with more than 500 direct destinations. Last year, it peaked by handling more than 215 million ton of freight, and thanks to its growth of more than 4%, it is performing significantly better than European competitors like Rotterdam and Hamburg. So I also expect a lot of  the meeting with the Busan Port Authority, and am looking forward to  an even stronger cooperation between our Belgian ports and Busan.

 

Thanks to its strategic location, Belgium is one of the main logistical hubs and gateway to the European single market of 500 million customers. An impressive 80% of Europe’s purchasing power lies within a radius of 800 km. Numerous distribution centers, R&D facilities, and corporate headquarters are already established in our country, taking advantage of the low cost and the short distance to Europe’s major markets. Indeed, more than 2.300 foreign companies, including several Korean ones, have their European headquarters in Belgium. Our excellent infrastructure, strong logistics and transportation facilities connect us to our neighboring countries, our regional partners and the rest of the world. And despite the rather limited size of our country, I can assure you that we still have enough space left for new investments.

 

Belgium is also a founding member of multilateral and regional organizations such as the United Nations, NATO and the European Union. Brussels is home to the European institutions and the NATO headquarters and houses more than 5.000 diplomats, making it a European, Atlantic and global diplomatic capital. So it makes sense for Korean companies that are active in Europe to be close to these main decision centers.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen, at this power lunch, we have limited ourselves to discussing the economic assets of our country. Yet, there are many other reasons to choose for Belgium as an investment destination. Just think about our highly skilled workforce, state-of-the-art universities that offer excellent academic opportunities, also for young Korean students,  or the exceptionally high standard of living for expats and their families.

 

[Conclusion]

Your Royal Highness,

Excellences,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Ever since the Korean War, our countries have shared a close bond. Belgium immediately heeded the call of the UN for soldiers to be sent to the rescue of Korea, by establishing a volunteer corps. This corps sailed from the Port of Antwerp to here, the Port of Busan, where the first Belgian soldiers arrived on the 31st of January 1951. Over 3.000 Belgian soldiers left their homes and fought in many key battles of the Korean War. More than 100 compatriots didn’t get to see Belgium again. Some of their international comrades are buried here at the UN Memorial Cemetery in Busan, the only UN cemetery in the world. Their sacrifices have not been meaningless, as they laid the foundation of a very strong alliance, based on common values and respect.

 

Friends and allies are very important in these challenging and unpredictable times. Korea and Belgium are very much aware of the fact that cooperation is the best guarantee for stability and prosperity for both our peoples. I expected a lot of this mission, and I am pleased to note that my expectations have even been exceeded. I want to thank the Korean people for their hospitality. I also thank everyone, in particular our Federal and Regional Export Promoting Authorities, notably FIT, and of course the many Korean and Belgian business leaders and entrepreneurs, for having organized and attended this investment power lunch. I hope to see all of you soon on a mission to Belgium, to discover our many strengths with your own eyes. You can always count on my full support in exploring new projects or launching new investments, for I am convinced that further Korean investments in Belgium could boost your exports figures and lead to a clear win-win situation.

Thank you.

 

Pieter De Crem

Secretary of State for Foreign Trade

 

- - - the spoken word alone prevails - - -


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