Toespraak

01-04-2015

Seminar on public procurement opportunities of the European Commission, the EBRD, the World Bank and Belgian Development Cooperation.

Launch of the Trade4U app, April, 1st, 2015


- - - The spoken word alone prevails - - -

 

Excellences,

Dear representatives of the various organisations and actors in this domain,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

In my turn, I would like to welcome you to this seminar, this very important event which constitutes a significant step forward in increasing the efficiency, transparency and access to public procurement opportunities of the European Commission, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the World Bank and the Belgian Development Cooperation.

 

[Belgian Foreign Trade]

 

Excellences, Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

Belgium has one of the most open, export-oriented economies in the world. Exports amount to more than eighty per cent of the national GDP of Belgium. According to recent WTO data, Belgium is the tenth largest exporting country in the world. Foreign trade, and the presence of our businesses abroad remain therefore fundamental to our economy and prosperity. Last year, the value of our exports amounted to 246 billion euros and the imports to 251 billion euros. This represents an increase of 1,2 % for exports and a decrease of 0,1 % for imports, compared to 2013. With this, we closed the trade balance in 2014 with a deficit of 5,5 billion euros. The year before that, in 2013, the deficit amounted to 8,6 billion euros. Since 2009, the trade balance has remained negative.

 

What we did observe, was a significant improvement in the balance of intra-community trade with a deficit that fell with 3,9 billion euros to 9,3 billion euros thanks to the growth of the Intra-EU exports (+ 1,4 %), combined with the decrease of the Intra-EU imports (-0,9%), a possible sign of improved competitiveness of our country within the European Union. Furthermore, our European allies, and especially our neighbouring countries, remain by far our most important trading partners.

 

Regarding the extra-community trade, we ended 2014 with a surplus of 3,8 billion euros, a smaller surplus than the 4,6 billion euros in 2013, or, in other words, a drop of 0,8 billion euros.  A finding that may indicate that our competitiveness in the world has not improved, or maybe this figure shows that our companies are simply not sufficient present abroad?

 

[Public Procurement]

 

Excellences,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

These figures support my vision that we can do better than we do today. As Federal Secretary of State for Foreign Trade, I work in close collaboration with the Belgian Foreign Trade Agency, which is one of the tools at our disposal to assist our companies through an all-inclusive economic approach, a comprehensive short- and long-term approach that will benefit every part of our economy, and thus make a major contribution to our economic recovery and prosperity.

 

With the Agency, we focus on two pillars. The first one are the economic missions, which are organized in collaboration with Flanders Investment & Trade, Brussels Invest & Export and the Wallonia Export-Investment Agency. These are all highly successful, just like the one we conducted last week, together with Her Royal Highness Princess Astrid and 385 representatives of Belgian enterprises to Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.  

 

A second pillar relates to the development and distribution of information about the foreign markets. The Belgian Foreign Trade Agency commits to creating and making available an up-to-date exporters’ database and to selective distribution information. The latter entails the distribution of three categories of trade information: trade proposals, public tenders and international projects.

 

Excellences, Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

This seminar and the launch of the Trade4U app form another important milestone in our quest to inform the Belgian companies in the best possible way. Indeed, as the previously mentioned figures also demonstrate, today more than ever Belgian companies need to internationalize their businesses to grow and survive. However, each year, Belgian companies, and in particular the Small and Medium Enterprises that are the basis, the thriving force of our economy, are missing out on thousands of public procurement business opportunities, representing billions of euros! 

 

Just to give you one concrete example. A recent article in the Belgian economic newspaper ‘De Tijd’ taught us that Belgium has a substandard return on investment at the World Bank. We pay an annual contribution of approximately 220 million euros, whereas only an average of 32 million euros return to Belgian companies in the form of contracts. This puts our country on a mere fortieth place at the World Bank, while neighbouring countries of us are performing way much better. And then there are outliers such as Brazil. With a similar contribution as Belgium, Brazil is able to obtain investments projects for an amount of 588 million dollars annually. 

 

Excellences,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

These figures show us that we must take better advantage of these overseas business opportunities. This is exactly why the Belgian Foreign Trade Agency and I have taken the initiative of organizing this seminar on public procurement opportunities. This seminar has two main objectives: the first one is to help Belgian companies to better identify opportunities that are relevant for them. The second one is making public procurement of the European Commission, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the World Bank and Belgian Development Cooperation more accessible.

 

These objectives are symbolized in the launch of a new Trade4U app, a new package that will help you find overseas contracts, tenders, projects, and trade proposals, specifically focused on your products, services or industry. Furthermore, this application will provide you with the public procurement guides of the major international funding agencies, so you can submit your bids and applications in the best possible way.

 

This seminar will also give you the occasion to meet experts of the European Commission, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the World Bank and the Belgian Development Cooperation at individual booths, have B2B meetings with them and ask specific questions. Procedure guides for the different organizations will also be made available to participants.

 

[Conclusion]

 

Excellences, Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

I thank you all for your numerous attendance. I am convinced that you will get the most out of this seminar, and that the contacts that you establish here will open new doors and offer new trade and investment opportunities. I thank everyone who contributed in the realization of this seminar and the new app and I thank you all for your attention.

 

- - - The spoken word alone prevails - - -


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