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British Chamber

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.

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  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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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Image credit: Rakuten

 

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Gain visibility and recognition for excellence in trade and export by applying for the Golden Bridge Trade and Investment Awards.

What is the Golden Bridge Trade and Export Awards?

The 2017 Golden Bridge Trade and Investment Awards present an exciting opportunity for UK companies trading or investing in Belgium, and Belgian and Luxembourgian companies trading or investing in the UK to showcase their bilateral success to an international jury and celebrate their achievements during an exclusive ceremony hosted by the British Ambassador to Belgium, Alison Rose at the British Residence in Brussels, at the heart of Europe.

The Golden Bridge Awards is co-organised by the British Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and the Belgian-Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce in Great Britain.

Fun fact: Belgium was the 7th largest export market to the UK and the UK was the 12th largest export market to Belgium last year.

Why should you apply?

Expand your international network, gain business and political expertise, receive recognition for your achievements.

The Golden Bridge Award opens doors to an international network and the connections businesses need to succeed both at home and abroad. Our international panel of judges from the business community are also affiliated with regional trade and investment bodies as well as embassies from the UK, Belgium and Luxembourg.

Winning a Golden Bridge Award will solidify your credibility on any of the three markets and will reinforce your pivotal role  in the economic relationship between Belgium, the U.K. and Luxembourg.

Previous winners of the Best Newcomer category, Orega, shared that the recognition for their export credentials gave them even greater visibility.

“It has sent the right message to our business partners based in Belgium. The award delivers to our potential customers a strong message, as we were new comers on the market.”
-Orega, Golden Bridge Best Newcomer Winner 2016

The award made a positive impression on their business partners with their improved credibility.

Bel’Export, 2016 winner of the Golden Bridge Award for UK business to Belgium, shared that the Golden Bridge award raised their company profile internationally as well as at home.

“As company you gain visibility, in – and outside the UK. It is a recognition for doing a good job.”

-Bel’Export, Golden Bridge Winner 2016

What will you win?

The winners of the Global Bridge award will receive:

  • Visibility at the awards event itself.
  • A one-year free membership* of the British Chamber. If you qualify under our SME criteria, you receive free  membership already if you are shortlisted as a finalist.
  • Participation in our Golden Bridge Awards Winners’ Day programme in Brussels in January 2018 to celebrate your success.
  • Your company featured in the British Chamber’s annual publications and in articles on our social media channels.

Apply now! The final registration deadline is 30th September!
Do you want to be a Golden Bridge Awards partner? Check the Golden Bridge Trade & Investment Award page on our website for more information or contact Alexandra Trandafir at alexandra@britishchamber.be.

 The Gala Dinner for the Golden Bridge Awards will take place on Wednesday 22nd November 2017 at The British Ambassador’s Residence in Brussels. The applicants will be shortlisted based on their financial performance, their innovation and strategy abroad, and their motivation for entering the awards.

*regular membership

 

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After a quiet summer (especially for certain negotiators..) the British Chamber welcomes their new interns (from L to R), Nikki Rai, Kelvin Akinpelu, Matt Richards, Joe Lush and Kelly-Ann Fonderson who are all university students from the UK who are doing their one year placement as part of their degree. Nikki is studying French and International Relations at Aston University and is joining the EU Committee team. Kelvin studies Economics at the University of Bath and is our new Membership Development Officer. Matt is a Sociology student at the University of Bath and is also one of the new EU Events Officers. Joe and Kelly are both studying Politics with International Relations at the University of Bath. Joe is the Business & Trade Officer. Kelly is our new Communications & Events Officer.

The new team have arrived bright eyed and bushy tailed and are looking forward to working with the members this year! While you are booking your next event at the chamber, here are some fun facts about the new colleagues..

The newbies favourite type of hats:

Joe: Yorkshire flatcap

Kelly: Wigs

Kelvin: Baseball caps with structure

Matt: Drinking hat

Nikki: New York Yankee cap

 

The 2017 Golden Bridge Trade and Investment Awards present an exciting opportunity for UK companies trading or investing in Belgium, and Belgian & Luxembourg companies trading or investing in the UK to showcase their bilateral success to an international jury and celebrate their achievements during an exclusive ceremony hosted by the British Ambassador to Belgium, Alison Rose at the British Residence in Brussels.

As part of our 2017 Golden Bridge Trade and Investment Awards promotion we spoke with Helen Kemp, Group Communications Manager at Renewi plc (formerly known as Shanks Group plc) to see how they have been making use of their 2016 Golden Bridge Award. Renewi, which was created in 2017 by the merger of Shanks Group plc and Van Gansewinkel Groep B.V., is a leading waste-to-product business ideally positioned to be part of the solution to some of the main environmental problems facing society today: reducing waste, avoiding pollution, and preventing the unnecessary use of finite natural resources.

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Shanks Group plc collecting their award from HMA Alison Rose

What has been the response internally/externally to winning a Golden Bridge Trade & Investment Award?
We had a great reaction to the award win both internally and externally. Winning the award was a proud achievement for us as it highlights our commitment and investment in Belgium and the importance it has within our portfolio.

 

Why do you think participating in such events is valuable for a company?
Getting recognition, such as the Golden Bridge Award, cements our position as a leading waste-to-product business and a key contributor to the circular economy in Belgium. Such awards not only motivate our teams but also show our customers, local communities and other stakeholders that we lead in our field.

 

How have you used your success in your promotion/communication/marketing strategy?
We have promoted our award win both on our social media channels and on our website. We also highlight it in a number of publications including our annual report and internal magazine.

 

What did you enjoy most about the awards process?
We really enjoyed the entire process – from writing our entry, presenting our business, meeting the ambassador and the rest of the panel and of course attending the awards where we were grateful to receive an award!

 
What is your company working towards in 2017? Are you engaging in new projects?
Since our merger earlier this year, we are now primarily focused on integrating our two great businesses. We will always have three top priorities of keeping each other safe, serving our customers and delivering our commitments.

 

What advice would you have for 2017 applicants?
We would advise 2017 applicants to not be shy to show why you should win the award. At Renewi we have a fantastic business in Belgium and we were happy to promote it!

 

The deadline to submit your applications for the 2017 Golden Bridge Awards is now 29 September. Traditionally consisting of three categories – Best Newcomer, Best Small/Medium Sized Enterprise and the Golden Bridge Trade and Investment Award – applying for and winning an award is entirely free of charge.
For more information about the awards, please visit our website or contact us via email.

This week we sat down with Chair of Brussels New Generation Joseph Lemaire to gain an insight into what the upcoming plans are for our young professionals network.

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What are you most proud of in your time as Brussels New Generation chair so far?

The work done by the whole Brussels New Generation team. Every member of the core group has a very busy schedule with their daily job but still makes time to put together a great and regular program that attracts new and interesting people to every new event.

 

What does being chair of Brussels New Generation bring you?

I am constantly learning and it makes me go out of my comfort zone in many ways. I get to know young professionals like me and learn from their own experiences. I also have the chance to regularly meet business leaders who can always share professional and personal insights. Finally, part of the role is also learning how to lead a team and it is definitely something I enjoy doing.

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Teams discuss their answers in our pub quiz!

Which Brussels New Generation event are you most looking forward to?

All of them, seriously. One of our main focus is to have a program with a wide variety of events (training, leadership, networking, charity). That way, there is never a routine and every event is interesting to any young professional. But if I had to choose one event, it would be the Brussels New Generation Summer Cocktail (July 5 at Aloft Schuman as of 6PM), perfect to kick off summer and meet new people!

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Digging in at the Brussels Bake Off!

What are Brussels New Generation’s plans for the coming year?

We will keep having fun and organising regular events that are interesting and relevant. That is very important to us. We will also keep working on attracting more new young professionals from a variety of backgrounds. Finally, we will strive to become an even better platform for young professionals to meet and network.

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Young professionals at one of our CEO breakfasts

Why should people come along to a Brussels New Generation event?

First of all, Brussels New Generation events are free and that matters when you’re a young professional. It is also an opportunity to follow professional trainings and meet business leaders in an exclusive setting. Brussels New Generation events allow you to meet new people in Brussels and to learn about many other organisations and companies. Finally, coming to an event is a good way to chat with us and let us know what kind of event you would like us to organise next time.

 

If you would like to learn more about the work by Brussels New Generation click here and to see what events our young professionals network has coming up click here!

The British Chamber of Commerce in Brussels is calling on both Britain and the EU to focus on jobs and the economy in Brexit negotiations.

“We need the best possible agreement between the UK and the EU, that takes into account the highly interconnected nature of our economies. If we’re to avoid unnecessary damage to jobs and businesses across Europe we’ve got to have clarity, certainty, and practicability” said Tom Parker, chair of UK-EU relations for British Chamber.

Given the complexity and time-sensitivity of the negotiations, we believe this will be a two step process and that the two parties should agree as soon as possible to an amicable divorce, with the rights of residents, financial settlement, and the sensitive questions related to Northern Ireland being resolved. They should then agree to a transitional arrangement that provides legal certainty for a clearly defined period during which a satisfactory and comprehensive agreement on the new EU-UK relationship can be reached.

Delivering a seamless business environment between the UK and EU27 will be very complex, particularly given the limited amount of time available. That’s why the British Chamber has established a set of 10 guiding priorities, which we believe must underpin the future agreement. “Ongoing access to the single market, seamless customs arrangements and availability of skilled labour are absolute musts for any future UK-EU partnership” Parker added.

 

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About the British Chamber

The British Chamber is unique: an international network that connects your business with other businesses, a wide spectrum of national and European policymakers, and customers and clients. We can facilitate your relationships with the European policymakers and Institutions that your business needs to reach. We are a platform for developing your business whether just starting up or well established. We are the gateway to a global trade and investment business solution. Our network of business support services and partnerships with the UK Trade & Investment (UKTI), the Belgian regional investment agencies in Brussels, Flanders and Wallonia, and the European (COBCOE) and global network of UK Chambers of Commerce gives you the direct contact and connections you need to succeed.

 

Contacts

Uzma Lodhi – Head of Communications – uzma@britishchamber.be

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