On Thursday 9 May, the Trade4U Department of the Belgian Foreign Trade Agency, in collaboration with the regional partners FIT, AWEX and, organised a seminar at the ING bank on the topic “International trade opportunities with a special focus on China”. This seminar was organised on the occasion of the Belgian economic mission to this economic superpower at the end of November.

With the shadow of a trade war looming between China and the United States, the intervention of Mr Lars Nilsson, Deputy Head of the Trade Analysis Unit at the European Commission, was something to look forward to. Mr Nilsson stressed the importance of free trade agreements and the benefits they bring to our companies. The European Union is also in a phase of exploratory talks with China in this area. However, it turns out that there are still many companies, including Belgian ones, that pay undue amounts of customs duties under existing free trade agreements and just by paying attention to this, the score could be even better.

Mr Nabil Jijakli, CEO of Credendo, also emphasised the importance of the Asian market and the Chinese market in particular. As a credit insurer, Credendo is very well placed to see that, despite the slowdown in growth, China is still extremely attractive for our Belgian companies.

After the coffee break and useful networking, Ms. Lixia Xing, Deputy Head of the Business Department of the United Investment Bank Europe, clarified the objective of the new China Belgium Technology Center in Louvain-La-Neuve. A meeting place for Chinese and Belgian companies to promote trade between the two countries, it is clear that this center anticipates the future in terms of both construction and content concept.
The seminar was concluded with a presentation by BMI-SBI, a public-private institution that financially supports the investments of Belgian companies abroad, including in China. The opportunities and dangers of such an investment were explained and the role that BMI-SBI can play in this is not always known to the general public.

The more than 110 participants were satisfied with comprehensive information, ranging from the importance of free trade with countries such as China, the possibilities to minimise risks - both in direct exports and through foreign direct investment - and how to become acquainted with Chinese trading partners and obtain the necessary support. It is not surprising that extensive discussions were then carried out and contacts intensified.

The next Trade4U seminar is scheduled for September 2019.