Port Event in Cooperation with the Port of Antwerp

Tuesday, April 28th, 2015

- - - the spoken word alone prevails - - -





Ladies and Gentlemen,


It is a pleasure to visit Istanbul and 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. It is of course 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]



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 several 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, or to make use of the Port of Antwerp as a privileged access point to Europe’s hinterland.



Ladies and Gentlemen,


Turkey has unique strategic advantages, making it by far our most important trading partner in this region. This nation forms a bridge between cultures, peoples and continents. 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. Indeed, thanks to its central location in one of the most wealthy and developed regions in the world, the opportunities to export from Belgium are numerous and varied. Belgium’s dense interconnected transport network offers your business endless options. This logistics system is supported by world-class telecommunication and internet infrastructures. This makes Belgium without doubt the number one country for logistics and distribution in Europe.


The Port of Antwerp is a key element in this sector and the premier establishment for businesses. As Europe’s leading integrated maritime and logistics platform, the port of Antwerp handled 200 million tonnes of cargo in 2014. Antwerp is by far the most important European port for Turkey, with an annual traffic of more than 10 million tons of goods to and from Turkey. This gives it a huge market share of approximately 63 per cent in relation to other North European ports. However, the port of Antwerp is ambitious, clearly proven by its long term investment plan. We will thus not be satisfied with this current collaboration. In the next speeches, you will hear a lot more about the many advantages that the Port of Antwerp has to offer to your business.




Ladies and Gentlemen,


Turkey and Belgium already maintain outstanding relations in the economic field, but also in the political and cultural one. The Belgian cultural festival Europalia for example showcases Turkey this year. So standing as it does at the crossroads of Asian and European cultures, this country was the ideal candidate for the jubilee edition (Europalia came into the world 45 years ago and the festival is about to be presented to a European public for the 25th time). The choice of Turkey as the guest country is also an opportunity for us to strengthen our ties with Belgium’s large Turkish community. Initiatives are under way to involve Turkish Belgians in the programme and to have the European public discover this country’s unseen cultural richness.  


Ladies and Gentlemen,

Indeed, it is my belief that by joining our forces and working together in many fields, we will be able to tackle international and national challenges more efficiently and of course to exploit economic opportunities even better than we do today.


Thank you for your attention,


- - -  the spoken word alone prevails - - -

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