Archive

Author Archives: British Chamber of Commerce in Belgium

The British Chamber of Commerce | EU & Belgium welcomes the declaration by the European Council that “sufficient progress” has been made in the negotiation of the UK withdrawal from the EU, and its decision to move to phase two. We urge the Commission to proceed swiftly with the negotiations on a withdrawal agreement incorporating the terms of the joint report of 8 December. We also urge the Council to grant the Commission a mandate to open negotiation on a transitional period at the earliest possible occasion. We stress that the withdrawal agreement which includes the transitional arrangements should be adopted well ahead of the 29 March 2019 deadline. We further welcome the Council’s intention to start discussions on a negotiation mandate for the future EU-UK relations early in the new year.

Our member companies have a common interest in the success of Europe as a whole, including both the EU and Britain. We hope that the EU27 and the UK will negotiate a deep and comprehensive agreement that supports the invaluable relations between the two partners.

First and foremost an orderly withdrawal agreement must be reached, which includes a transitional period that allows all economic activity to continue unhindered during and after Britain’s withdrawal from the EU. The transitional arrangements shall ideally maintain the status quo and ensure the application of the acquis communautaire in the UK for the period necessary to grant businesses certainty, until the full implementation of the future relationship.

With little time available for extremely complex negotiations and ambitious objectives, we are calling for profound and constructive progress in the weeks ahead on negotiating the transitional arrangements and a framework for the future. We will continue working with the negotiating authorities and national business representatives across the UK and EU27 to forge common understanding that a strong and close future relationship is in the best interest of everyone.

—– END —-

 

Press Contact: Uzma Lodhi – Head of Communications – +32 2613 2855

 

About the Chamber

The chamber has been serving the international business community here for over 100 years and we are committed to the long term – continuing to be the ultimate Gateway to Europe. Our members are small to large businesses from Britain and across the world – all with a stake in the success of Europe and its economy. They employ 1.2m people in the UK alone, with at least as many again in the rest of Europe.

Tom Parker Monday Mail Quote (BLOG) 4 (final)

An alliance of northern European Coastal Chambers accounting for 70% of EU-UK trade urge British and EU negotiators to create clarity on a future trade friendly relationship as soon as possible now that sufficient progress has been made.

The Federation of Belgian Chambers of Commerce represented by Voka – Flanders Chamber of Commerce and BECI – Brussels Chamber of Commerce, the British Chambers of Commerce, Chambers Ireland, the Danish Chamber of Commerce, the French Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the German Chambers of Commerce and Industry and the Netherlands-British Chamber of Commerce have today handed over a joint statement to the British and EU Brexit negotiators. They urge the British and EU negotiators to strive for a breakthrough in the first phase of the negotiations to ensure talks on transition and the future EU-UK trade relationship can start as soon as possible.

Countries from the northern European coastal area have always maintained exceptionally good trade ties. Trade between the United Kingdom and the other 6 European Union countries in this area amounted to 344bn EUR in 2016, accounting for 70% of the total EU-UK trade. The English Channel, located in the middle of the North Sea area, is for example the world’s busiest shipping lane, with more than 500 vessels passing through the strait on a daily basis, as well as being a key transport link between the EU and Ireland. A sudden and chaotic disruption of trade in this region would have a substantial economic impact that should not be underestimated.

The northern European Coastal Chambers were therefore pleased to learn last Friday that sufficient progress has been made in the first phase of the Brexit negotiations. The Northern European Coastal Chambers now call on the United Kingdom and the European Union to move on to discussing the outlines of a future trade friendly EU-UK relationship that fully respects all aspects of the integrity of the Single Market as soon as possible.

The northern European Coastal Chambers also believe a realistic transition period is needed to provide time for companies to adapt to the new EU-UK trading relationship. A status-quo like transition period – announced with sufficient notice – ensuring the UK remains in the customs union and the Single Market for the duration of the transition period, with all the appropriate rights and obligations, would be best to provide business with the highest possible degree of certainty and predictability.

 

 

Press contacts:
Belgian Chambers
– Voka – Flanders Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Mr Tom Demeyer
Tom.Demeyer@voka.be
0032 472 84 15 99
– Beci – Brussels Enterprises, Commerce and Industry
Mr Jan De Brabanter
jdb@beci.be
0032 499 588 845

British Chambers
– British Chambers of Commerce
Mr Allan Williams
a.williams@britishchambers.org.uk
0044 (0)7920 583381
– British Chamber of Commerce – EU & Belgium
Ms Uzma Lodhi
Uzma@britishchamber.eu
0032 (0)499 515553

Chambers Ireland
Mr Ian Talbot
ian.talbot@chambers.ie
00353 87 234 4829

Danish Chamber of Commerce
Mr Kasper Ernest
ker@danskerhverv.dk
0032 491 25 56 11

Deutscher Industrie- und Handelskammertag
Franziska Stavenhagen
0032 2 286 – 1634
stavenhagen.franziska@dihk.de
French Chambers of Commerce and Industry
Mr Christophe Duday
c.duday@ccifrance.fr
0033 1 40 69 38 31

Netherlands British Chamber of Commerce
Mrs. Lyne Biewinga
lbiewinga@nbcc.co.uk
0031 70 205 56 56

Usually, I leave my apartment in Brussels around 7 am. However, “usually” is a difficult word to use since there is hardly any routine that structures a day in the “quartier européen”. Depending on the week, my workplace is either in Brussels, Strasbourg or my home country Germany. This involves a lot of travelling and means that a well-organized calendar is vital.

This particular morning, I got to my office after a few hours of sleep and a cold shower. I had arrived from Hannover by car the night before and had been welcomed home by a broken boiler in my apartment. Nevertheless, I had to shake off any exhaustion and prepare for a busy day at the European Parliament.

There was one major story today: the failure of the exploratory talks to form a new government in Germany. After several weeks of negotiations, the liberal FDP announced that they had ruled out any coalition with the CDU, the CSU and the Greens. National politics deeply affect my work at the European Parliament which is why I keep close track of current events.

After an hour of reading the newspapers, checking the mails and preparing the agenda for the day, I left for the first committee session. I have the honour of being the Chair of the Committee on Foreign Affairs. Here, members from all political groups get together to discuss the EU’s foreign and security policy.

One of the tasks of the committee is to strengthen the EU’s relations with the parliaments of third countries and the parliamentary assemblies of other international organizations. Our committee provides a platform for delegations from all over the world to exchange their views with the MEPs and to discuss common interests. Chairing the committee is exciting and challenging at the same time since the agenda is very diverse.

At today’s session, I was happy to welcome the Indian ambassador Mrs. Gaitri Issar Kumar for the debriefing of the EU-India Summit which took place on 6 October in New Delhi. With India’s growing influence in the world, it is of great importance to hear the Indian voice in the European Parliament. Both the Indian representatives and the MEPs emphasized their ambition to strengthen cooperation regarding trade and civil society.

After several other points in the committee, I rushed to an interview with Radio Free Europe about the upcoming Eastern Partnership Summit in Brussels.

The Eastern Partnership is an initiative of the EU involving the countries Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. By strengthening cooperation with its partner countries, the EU is able to foster democracy, stability and prosperity in its neighbourhood. However, I also try to draw attention to the challenges and shortcomings of the reform process in the region. In my interview, I underlined that the EU should offer more support for those countries that successfully implement reforms while reducing support for countries that fail to meet the requirements.

After a quick lunch-to-go, I was very happy to welcome the former British foreign minister Mr. David Miliband in my office. He now is the CEO of the International Rescue Committee, which provides emergency aid and long-term assistance to refugees. A topic which is more important than ever. Personal exchanges with politicians, representatives of NGOs and ambassadors are vital for gaining a realistic picture of the situation in other countries.

3

In another three-hour session of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, we discussed the pre-accession assistance for Turkey. The EU offers financial support and expertise to all accession candidates. The goal is to enable these countries to adapt to European democratic and economic standards. In any case, the willingness to reform needs to be the precondition for EU support. The situation in Turkey is worrying!

2

Due to the news from Germany, I had been invited to join a panel discussion addressing the failure of the exploratory talks and its implications for the European Union. The end of the negotiations is unfortunate. After a complicated start, the parties had come closer and closer to an agreement. I also regret the end of the negotiations because all four parties are pro-European. They know that a strong EU means a strong Germany. During the discussion, I could highlight that Germany will remain a reliable partner with a functioning caretaker government that continues to work towards the successful future of our European Union.

Picture1

The Golden Bridge Awards recognise the trade and export success of UK companies doing business in Belgium, and Belgian & Luxembourg companies doing business in the UK. Following on from our previous GBA Spotlight, we are happy to present two more of this year’s finalists: Doncasters Settas and Les Carrières de la Pierre Bleue Belge.

 Doncasters Settas S.A

Doncasters Settas is a titanium casting facility, which operates the largest vacuum furnace in Europe and in the world with a capacity of 1 ton of titanium, and is an established supplier of titanium castings worldwide to aerospace, defence, navy, pump and valve, and many more markets.

Pierre Bleue

Les Carrières de la Pierre Bleue Belge extracts, processes and supplies Belgian Blue Limestone (Bluestone). Their first quarry was opened in Soignies in 1668. Today, exports amount to 28% of their turnover, with 5% of this going to the UK for use in construction projects, large and small. Through partnership with a UK supplier, they have created the opportunity for UK customers to purchase all Bluestone products directly, thereby saving UK customers time and reducing their costs

We hope to see you during the awards ceremony on Wednesday 22nd November where you’ll find out who this year’s winners are.

We sat down with Glenn Vaughan, Chief Executive of the British Chamber of Commerce | EU & Belgium and he told us 15 interesting, historical and weird facts about the chamber.

glennvaughan_WimKempenaers07.jpg

  1. The British Chamber has been around since 1898.
  2. The chamber was called the Anglo-American Chamber of Commerce for a while.
  3. Our oldest member, Law Square – PWC joined as the Cooper Brothers in 1920.

 

 

4. Our first Strasbourg visit was in 1986.BCCP_Strasbourg_2016_Jpeg S-200

 

5. Superdry, the company that everyone thinks is Japanese is actually a British company. Its first export market was Belgium. They opened stores in Antwerp, Brussels and Knokke. Superdry’s annual turnover between 2016-2017 was £453 million.

Superdr.jpg

 

6.  GSK is the single largest foreign investor in the Belgian economy.GSK_LOS_RGB

7. Members of our members employ 120,000 people in Belgium, 1.2 million people in the UK and even more in the rest of the EU.

8. Only 30% of our members are British companies.

Member Companies (1)

9. BMW is the third largest industrial employer in the UK.

994508000000097321.png

 

10. We have over 4,000 visitors per year at our events.

11. The UK is the fourth largest foreign investor in Belgium.

12. 1 million cars are exported to the UK from the Port of Zeebrugge.

lng-volume-handled-in-port-of-zeebrugge-to-reach-43-mt-in-2013

Image from LNG World News Staff

13. Belgium is a top 10 export market for the UK. It wasn’t until recently that Belgium was overtaken by China as an export market.

14. 70% of UK – EU trade is with just six countries. Those countries are Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland and the Netherlands.

15. West Flanders is a major centre for deep frozen vegetables supplying English supermarkets.

Bonus fact:

Belgium is a major exporter of carpets to the UK. If Brexit makes you feel like “chewing the carpet,” bit might well be from Belgium.

img61892544

Image credit: Rakuten

 

3 IMG_4894

My days begin with my cat looking at me and he is not happy: he was not allowed to spend the night in my bedroom, and he wants me to know his displeasure. The fact that I drink my coffee and read the news distracts me from playing with him, and that doesn’t help.

That’s the only predictable moment in my day as an Ambassador in Belgium.

 

 

Whenever I can, I walk to the office, a 40-minute walk, a moment to consider the day ahead, a moment to put my thoughts together, a moment to plan. And yes, a moment when I’m feeling lucky because I don’t have to drive to work.

But I often have to hit the road. I’m also accredited to Luxembourg and I probably know by now all the bumps on the road between the two capitals, as I know also most of them between Brussels and Ieper, Antwerp, Namur and so many other cities. I come from a federation, like Belgium: I know that the capital is beautiful and important, I know that one needs to leave it to meet the entire country.

The geography is not the only challenge. In the same day I can deliver a demarche on a foreign policy issue, meet an artist, visit a company, be informed of a consular case, attend an official event, plan another one, complain (silently) about a bureaucratic requirement, draft or revise a note, brainstorm with colleagues, check on them. And make a speech.

I speak in public often: at business events; at commemoration ceremonies; on so many other diverse occasions. And because my 92-year old mother who lives in Montreal wants pictures of me, I send her pictures of those events. She then asks me if I’m doing something other than just speaking. “Yes mother, I’m also sending you pictures of me speaking.”

2 CanadaDayLux2017_07

Because this year is the 100th anniversary of the battle of Passchendaele I spend a lot of time attending commemoration ceremonies. For the last two months I didn’t need to worry about what I would do come the weekend. The small ceremonies, sometimes with Canadian families present, are the most touching: there is hesitation and lovely mistakes, the protocol is imperfect, the children who play a role look at me with pride and nervousness, the emotions run high, it’s life as its best –as we remember those many soldiers who lost their own.

4 maldegem2017-photo_HOM

But I also have to be present on social media. Diplomacy is a very old profession and if its logic has not changed, its tools have. I was told that I have to be active on the social media. I tried to argue that I was raised in another world, a world where the printed word was everything, but the argument was dismissed. I don’t have my kids with me to help me, I’m missing them -and I miss my electric typewriter.

1 CanadaDayLux2017_04

There is always an occasion in my day to remind me that to work in Brussels as Canadian Ambassador for bilateral relations is a real privilege. Our countries are really close, our relations are deeply and emotionally rooted in the tragic European history, the trade relationship keeps growing, the number of active links between our various institutions is impossible to count, and there is real friendship even we don’t agree on all issues.

And then I come back home, but my day is not necessarily over. My colleagues in Ottawa seem to get a new burst of energy at the end of their day, forgetting that by then I’m well into my night. The internet knows no time zones, but my body does.

And my cat complains that I don’t let him in the bedroom.

The Golden Bridge Awards recognise the trade and investment success of UK companies doing business in Belgium, and Belgian & Luxembourg companies doing business in the UK. As the 2017 awards ceremony draws closer, we learn a little more about three of this year’s finalists, FAO27, Abnormal Load Engineering (ALE) and Renson.

FAO27 logo

The company was founded in 2009 and named FAO27 Ltd, after the grid reference for the North Sea fishing sector and standing for Freshness and Origin, 27 for Traceability. Headquartered in Dingwall (in the Highland, Scotland), FAO27 acts as the export sales department for Scottish seafood family run businesses for whom access to export markets are difficult. FAO27 is committed to this sector as it is a pillar of the Scottish economy and an important part of its culture. The fisheries sector constitutes a main source of income for a large number of families. FAO27 itself is a small business with three full time staff based in Scotland and a further two personals based in France, but it supports over 150 full time jobs/families in Scotland. Through its activities, the company has created jobs within the family businesses that it represents.

 

Ale logoAnother finalist is ALE, one of the world’s leading international heavy transport and installation contractors with a global network of operating centres and a large fleet of heavy cranes, specialist transport and installation equipment. ALE provides engineering, heavy lifting, transportation, installation, ballasting, jacking, skidding and weighing services across the world. They are known best for their exceptional project management, engineering intelligence and Innovation Series fleet.

 

RensonFinally, Renson manufacture and supply natural and mechanical ventilation solutions including outdoor sun protection structures. Renson employ more than 90 research and development staff across the group and take innovation very seriously, they challenge their team to be at the forefront of market trends, innovation and design in all of their territories, however, in the UK they have specific requirements that are researched, understood and marketed by some of the best people in the industry, many with 20 plus years of service to Renson Fabrication Ltd. They are also part of many lobbying groups that promote healthy living through clean air, that specifically has a dramatic effect on the wellbeing of asthma sufferers, a UK ticking time bomb. To ensure they reach the correct people to enforce change in attitudes and regulation they carry out CPD’s to more than 200 registered architects per year promoting the healthy spaces concept.

 

There is still time to register to attend the awards ceremony, held at the British Residence in Brussels on Wednesday 22nd November. To find out more information, click here  or contact Alexandra.

 

 

 

 

%d bloggers like this: