Discours

28-03-2017

State Visit to Denmark – Power Lunch

March 29th, 2017


- - - the spoken word alone prevails - - -

 

 

[Introduction]

Deres Excellencer,

Mine damer og herrer,

Det er mig en stor glæde at slutte denne ”Investment power lunch” af. Det var yderst interessant at høre at så mange idéer, muligheder og projekter her samt under alle statsbesøgets andre aktiviteter bliver drøftet. Og selv om missionen endnu ikke er afsluttet, tør jeg vove at påstå, at den er en for den har uden tvivl styrket vores forbindelser både på det akademiske, kulturelle og ikke mindst det økonomiske område.

Excellences,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a pleasure for me to make the closing remarks of this investment power lunch. It was really great to hear so many ideas, opportunities and projects being discussed here and during other activities of this State Visit. Indeed, I dare say that this mission may now already be called a success because it clearly strengthened the bond between our two countries on an academic, cultural, and above all, an economic level.  

 

[Belgium – Denmark]

And, Ladies and Gentlemen, let me be frank with you, this is necessary. Despite the fact that our countries are very much alike, our bilateral trade remains rather modest. The total export of goods from the European Union to Denmark amounts to some € 56 billion, with a Belgian share of 5%, making us the 6th exporter to Denmark. Total imports of goods from Denmark to the European Union amounts to some € 50 billion a year, with a Belgian share of 2,5%, making us the 10th largest European importer of goods from Denmark. So there is an important scope for growth of our trade and the same goes for our investments. Many big and smaller Belgian companies have important investments here and several Danish companies also have an office in Belgium, but still too much opportunities are being left untapped today.

 

Yet Belgium, just as Denmark, is considered a world-class innovative hub with an open economy, built on important international ports that offer a quick and easy connection to the rest of the world.  We offer also a privileged access to the European and NATO headquarters, and we have a highly-skilled workforce which is flexible, multilingual, and highly efficient. Furthermore, Belgium accommodates high quality universities,  cherishes a strong tradition in Research & Development and the Belgian Government has worked very hard to reform the economy, the Belgian tax system, and the labor market. We reached an agreement on a tax shift worth € 7.2 billion, intended to shift taxes away from tax on labor, to stimulate competitiveness of companies and to create more jobs. With this strategy, which has been praised by the EU, the IMF and the OECD, we expect a solid economic growth and 114.000 new jobs to be created in the next three years. And, as the Danish people know very well, life is of course more than mere facts and figures. So another reason why investing in Belgium is an excellent idea is its quality of life. Although I have to admit that we are a bit jealous of your second place in the UN World Happiness Report. It is definitely well-deserved however, as I’ve only seen happy people during this visit. Belgium for its part ended on the seventeenth spot, but we’re steadily making our way up the list by winning a place each year, so watch your back. And to our defense: I think that they have conducted the poll on a gloomy, rainy day.

 

[Conclusion]

But in all seriousness, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Denmark and Belgium are partners, allies, and almost neighbors. I thank you for your warm-hearted welcome, and you will always be received with open arms in Belgium also. Together with our Regions, Flanders, Wallonia, and Brussels, and our regional investments authorities present here, we have a complete toolbox to offer you an ideal base to set up or to increase your presence in Belgium. Or like the Danes use to say: Det Flasker Sig (it bottles itself). So I invite all of you to continue to talk, to exchange views and ideas, and to explore new opportunities. Also in the aftermath of this State Visit, thanks to the new contacts you’ve established and the new people you’ve met. Like I said, this mission can be called a success today already, taking into account the many new opportunities that have been created to invigorate the bilateral trade, investments, and cooperation between our two Kingdoms.

 

Thank you, Jeg takker Dem alle for Deres venlige opmærksomhed !

 

Pieter De Crem

Secretary of State for Foreign Trade

 

- - - the spoken word alone prevails - - -

 


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