Toespraak

27-04-2015

Opening remarks for the Foreign Economic Relations Board of Turkey

Monday, April 27th, 2015


- - -  the spoken word alone prevails - - -

 

[Introduction]

 

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Ms. Pinar Eczacibasi, thank you for your very interesting remarks and your warm reception of our delegation. I am delighted to visit Turkey for the first time as Belgian Secretary of State for Foreign Trade. In my previous position as Belgian Minister of Defence, I had outstanding relations with Turkey as both of our countries are strong allies who share a very similar vision and whose soldiers are often deployed side by side in many operations. It is my intention to continue this excellent relationship in the domain of bilateral trade between both of our countries. This is exactly why I wanted to pay a visit to Turkey as soon as possible, together with an important delegation of Belgian companies and businesses.

 

[Bilateral trade between Turkey and Belgium]

 

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

Indeed, Turkey is a major trading partner for Belgium. This country is Belgium’s 13th most important client worldwide with 4,8 billion euros of Belgian merchandises exported in 2014, representing a 4.3% increase compared to the year before. Turkey occupies the 18th place among the suppliers of our economy with 3,4 billion euros in 2014, representing a 4.5% increase in imports. Chemicals and plastics together account for nearly half of all exports to Turkey. Half of imports from Turkey are concentrated in two sectors: transport equipment and textiles.

 

Furthermore, Belgium is one of the most important investors in Turkey. In 2012, our country occupied the 4th place of foreign direct investors with an accumulated total of 7,3 billion US dollar. Some Belgian companies that have invested in Turkey: Ageas, Bekaert, Deceuninck, Ontex, Puratos, KatoenNatie, Ziegler, GSK, Tractebel Engineering, Schreder-Comelec, BNP Paribas Fortis, and so on. The list is very long and impressive.

 

There are also some important Turkish investors in Belgium such as Yildiz Holding/Ülker, Sabanci Group, Eroglu Holding and Aytaç. However, their number could be much larger, taking into account the many advantages that our country has to offer to foreign investors. That is exactly why I also want to be a contact point for foreign companies that are interested to invest in Belgium.

 

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

Turkey has unique strategic advantages, making it by far our most important trading partner in this region. This country not only has an important domestic market, but also forms a bridge between cultures, peoples and continents. I am very much impressed by your quick recovery of the financial and economic crises, clearly demonstrating this country’s flexibility and economic dynamism. Belgium also makes the most of its unique strategic position as a privileged access point to Europe, forming a link between the Latin, German and Anglo-Saxon cultures. It is thus no coincidence that Turkey and Belgium already maintain outstanding trade relations. It is however my intension to further strengthen these existing relations, including with this economic mission that brings together key economic players of our countries. Turkey and Belgium are partners on the road to a healthy and sustainable economic growth. And by growth, I am not only thinking of expansion, but also about the growth of our knowledge, our diversification, our knowhow and our expertise.

 

[Conclusion]

 

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am very much looking forward to the presentations of the Business & Investment Environment of Turkey and its economic overview. It is my belief that by joining our forces and working together, we will be able to tackle international and national economic challenges more efficiently and to exploit economic opportunities even better than today.

 

Thank you for your attention,

 

- - -  the spoken word alone prevails - - -

 


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