Opening speech Fresh Produce India 2017

April 27th, 2017

- - - the spoken word alone prevails - - -




It is a pleasure and an honor to welcome you to this expo event for the international fresh fruit and vegetable business in India. As our visit is slowly coming to an end, I’d like to draw the first conclusions of this economic mission. First of all, I’d like to say that I am always enchanted by India, not only because of its hospitability and rich culture, but also because of its entrepreneurial spirit and flexible and well-educated workforce.

2017 is a festive year for the Indo-Belgian partnership, as we celebrate the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between our countries. This mission has the objective of further strengthening and diversifying this unique bond and we definitely succeeded in doing so. The past few days, we’ve encountered so many political authorities and business leaders, and we have discussed numerous new opportunities for economic cooperation.

[Fruit and vegetables]

Diversification is the buzzword of this mission. Indeed, our bilateral trade figures are impressive and amount to 12 billion EUR, yet still depends too much on the trade in precious stones and jewelry. The fresh fruit and vegetables sector in India definitely is a fine example of a market with huge opportunities for economic cooperation. Belgium ranks fourth in export of fresh pears to India at almost 700 tons in 2016. Our share of European Union pear exports to India accounts for almost 72% of the total.  Not bad, if you take into account that we only started exporting pears in 2014. Furthermore, we rank sixth in export of apples to India at almost 10.000 tons in 2016, and these exports too have registered a massive increase since 2014.  

In other words, I believe that we are at the beginning of a success story with mutual benefits. Therefore, I am glad to see an important Belgian representation here at Fresh Produce India, with key players as Belgische Fruitveiling, Belorta, Wouters Fruithandel, Calsa, and Bel’Export. All of them offer premium quality and perfect taste, right from the heart of Europe. I can only invite you to visit and talk with these Belgian representatives and to keep in mind that we have a lot more to offer than apples and pears. Belgium is also known for its chicory, sweet peppers, tomatoes, leeks, strawberries, and many more quality fruits and vegetables.

For our Indian partners, it is also important to highlight that Belgium ports offer an easy and quick access to the European market of 500 million customers. Together with excellent logistical infrastructure and so many other business advantages, this makes our country one of the top destinations for foreign investments in Europe. Numerous distribution centers are already established in our country, taking advantage of the low cost and short distance to Europe’s major markets. But rest assured, we’ll always find a spot for new ones.


I encourage all of you to get the most out of this impressive event that brings together all Indian and many foreign key players in the sector of fresh fruits and vegetables. Furthermore, it also pays great attention to future trends, to the exchange of knowhow and experience, and to the strengthening of foreign trade. Thank you for your attention and I invite all of you, and my Belgian compatriots in particular, to discuss opportunities, to explore new markets, and to establish new contacts.

- - - the spoken word alone prevails - - -


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