On January 12, 2024, Belgian Prime Minister De Croo and Belgian Minister of Foreign Affairs Lahbib met with Chinese and Belgian entrepreneurs during an event organized by the Belgian-Chinese Chamber of Commerce (BCECC) and the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT) in Beijing.
Mr. Ren Hongbin, Chairman of the CCPIT, Mr. Zhang Weiwu, Senior Executive Vice President of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) and H.E. Mr. Bruno Angelet, Belgian Ambassador to China, Mr. Bernard Dewit, Chairman of the BCECC attended the meeting as well, together with about 100 Belgian and Chinese entrepreneurs.
After the opening words of BCECC’s Chairman Mr. Bernard Dewit, Mr. Ren Hongbin, Chairman of CCPIT gave a speech. As the largest trade and investment promotion organization in China, CCPIT is eager to collaborate with its Belgian counterparts. Belgium, known as the “Heart of Europe”, has played a crucial role in Sino-European interactions. In the 53 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Belgium, their bilateral ties have made remarkable progress, deepening their friendship and paving the way for mutually beneficial cooperation.
The CCPIT established a national working group on Services for foreign-invested enterprises in May 2022, providing a direct channel to address issues of concern to foreign investors. Mr. Ren Hongbin encouraged Belgian entrepreneurs to raise any difficulties or demands to the task force of the Council for the Promotion of International Trade, and hoped that the Belgian government departments and the Belgian-Chinese Chamber of Commercec (BCECC) will play a positive influence within the EU to create a fair, just and non-discriminatory business environment for Chinese enterprises to invest in Belgium.
Belgian Prime Minister De Croo highlighted the strong commercial relations between our two continents and countries, but he also stressed that we need to ensure a level playing field for European companies in China. It is crucial for the world economy that European and Chinese economies remain strong and equal partners in sustainable growth. He ended his speech by congratulating China for doubling its GDP per capita every eight years in the past decades, now equalling some EU Member States, and encouraging companies from both regions to look for opportunities for cooperation.
Mrs. Lahbib observed that there are still quite some obstacles for Belgian and European companies in their cooperation with China. Uncertainty, instability, unpredictability, property rights infringements and arbitrary rules are not good for business. She promised that the Belgian government is eager to strengthen the trade relations with China, but it also needs to be rebalanced. Belgium welcomes investments from China and hopes that the obstacles can be turned around into successful cooperations.
Mr. Bernard Dewit, Chairman of the BCECC, gave an interview to CGTN, during which he explained that many Belgian companies have been active in China for several years, most of which also stayed in China during the Covid years. There are still a lot of domains in which we can improve our cooperation, and there are sometimes also difficulties, which usually can be solved through dialogue. Luckily, companies from both countries are now starting to intensify their contacts again, which will hopefully bring about new business opportunities. The main challenge will be for small and medium-sized companies, which are an important part of the Belgian and Chinese economies. The BCECC is there to assist both Belgian and Chinese companies.
Please click on the image below to consult Mr. Dewit’s interview with CGTN:
The event took place at the occasion of the two-day visit by the Belgian delegation to China. Apart from representing the Belgian government, Mr. De Croo’s visit coincides with the start of Belgium’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union (EU) from January to June 2024, which increased the importance of this visit.
Apart from meetings at the top political level, Prime Minister De Croo also took the time to attend the opening ceremony of the new Belgian Embassy.
Please contact the Belgian-Chinese Chamber of Commerce (BCECC) in case you need more information.