1st edition, 2017

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Chamber News and Recent Activities

Multisectoral Economic Mission to the UAE

12-17 February 2017

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On 12 February 2017, HEM Pieter de Crem, Secretary of state for Foreign Trade, accompanied by a 35-member Delegation involving no less than 17 Belgian companies from the three Regions of Belgium and Luxembourg, landed in Dubai in the framework of a Multisectorial Economic Mission to the UAE. The country is the first commercial partner of Belgium in the Gulf region and counts 3500 Belgian residents, the largest community of Belgians in the Middle East.

This trade mission enables us to further strengthen our contacts, to discuss ideas and opportunities, and to deepen our ties.

HEM Pieter De Crem

Important Belgian Companies such as Besix, Tractebel, whose name are known all around the UAE, joined this economic mission leaded by the Arab-Belgian-Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce with the support of FIT, BIE, AWEX, the Federation of Belgian Chambers of Commerce, the Embassy of Belgium in the UAE. One must not forget that thanks to their wide range of connections and expertise such companies help put the Belgian potential firmly on the map and thus open up the market for other entrepreneurs.

This Mission was a real opportunity for us to optimaly explore the UAE market for the first time. We gained knowledge in a short period of time.
It was a really rewarding experience as we could establish relations within the UAE.

But also, another quite important point, is that this mission established a strong relationship between members of the Delegation and we could benefit from the experience and advice from other companies within the Delegation.

Finally, the presence of Minister De Crem, combined to the extended network of the ABLCC, was a significant added value as it gave us more credibility and opened-up unexpected doors.

Ad Infinitum Bi

It is thus no surprise that the Arab-Belgian-Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce, benefitting from its extensive network and privileged position in the Arab World, took the initiative to bring Belgian companies to explore the UAE market and to go beyond the commonly explored Emirates of Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The Belgian Delegation also got the unique opportunity to get to know better less explored Emirates such as Sharjah, Ras Al-Khaima and Fujairah, which are offering a real potential for SMEs.

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For some companies such as Derbigum, manufacturer of building materials, House & Garden, manufacturer of outdoor furniture, and the Law Firm Law Right, this was an opportunity to establish new contacts outside the major commercial centers.

For other companies, such as the Brussels IT company Ad Infinitium Bi, or the Electrical Panels Installations Company P&I bvba , as well as for Advensys Conseil, a Luxembourg accounting and fund investment firm, this was a first introduction to the UAE.

Lunch-Conference with Governor Smets, National Bank of Belgium

15 March 2017

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As the National Bank of Belgium’s annual report, an eagerly awaited source of information both in Belgium and abroad since 1851, has been published less than a month ago, the Arab-Belgian-Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce found it opportune to organize a Lunch-conference on economic perspectives and challenges for Belgium and the Eurozone in 2017.

I know you are a very active Chamber. This Chamber of Commerce is very important, and in a very efficient way, contributes to the excellent relations between Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Arab World.

Governor Jan Smets, National Bank of Belgium (NBB)

And who better than the Governor of the National Bank of Belgium himself, His Excellency Jan Smets, could give us a more valuable insight on the matter?

During his presentation, Governor Smets recalled the importance of trade relations between Belgium and the Arab world stressing that this area is an important trade partner for Belgium with exports to Arab countries accounting for more than 3% of Belgian exports globally.

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Governor Smets continued his analysis by giving the audience further insights on economic projections for the Eurozone and Belgium and how economic growth could be reinforced. He also drew attention to the fact that the world economy is growing and that it will grow a little bit more this year than last year.

This event was also a great occasion for the participants to meet face-to-face with our expert and to expand their network as it gathered around 80 people among which 25 Ambassadors and representatives from Arab Embassies.

Belgian Social Security System

28 March 2017

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On 28 March 2017, the Arab-Belgian-Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with Group S and Symbio, had the pleasure to invite Representatives of Arab Embassies in Belgium to a seminar on Social Security and health insurance at LE CHATELAIN BOUTIQUE HOTEL.

The event, with no less than 38 registered participants, proved very successful and served as a first step to help attendees better understand the Belgian Social Security System thanks to leading experts in their field!

This event proved a success as the number of registrations outreached the initial target number of participants! We were even pleased to welcome guests from the State of Kuwait, who came especially to take part to this event!

After the Seminar, the Arab-Belgian-Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce, Group S, and Symbio, cordially invited the attendees to share a meal, which was an ideal opportunity to meet and exchange views with the various experts in a relaxed atmosphere.

Tunisia the way forward

20 April 2017

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The seminar “Tunisia, the way forward”, jointly organized by the Arab-Belgian-Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce and FIPA Tunisia for the Benelux, the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture Belgium-Luxembourg-Africa-Caribbean-Pacific (CBL-ACP), and with the support of the Tunisian Embassy in Belgium and Tunisair, was a great opportunity for the participants to get a complete overview about business & investment opportunities in Tunisia as well as to meet face-to-face with the various representatives of the Tunisian Delegation.

On this occasion, we had the immense privilege to welcome as our guests of honour, H.E.M. Abdellatif Hmam, State Secretary for Trade, and H.E. Mrs. Cécile Jodogne, State Secretary of the Brussels-Capital Region, in charge of Foreign Trade.

The conference, which had pragmatic objectives, aimed at presenting the strategy, laid out in the 2016-2020 Development Plan, and its numerous projects in key sectors designed to strengthen the economy as well as to create a business-friendly environment for all kind of investments.

Indeed, with its diversified and market-oriented economy, Tunisia has long been cited as an example of success in Africa and the Middle East and despite a difficult context in the past few years, Tunisia still remains an attractive and Dynamic market!

The attendance of both Ministers to the seminar, which shows clear evidence of their commitment to further deepening bilateral relations between the two countries, was highly appreciated by all the participants who numbered around 90.

image022Interactive interview moderated by Mrs. Evelien STAELENS

All participants also appreciated the fact that they could benefit from interesting advices and tips for the success of their project thanks to the experience of the managers of three companies active in Tunisia (Mr. Didier Leclercq, CEO, Magesco/ Mr. Marcel Metz, Sales Manager Africa, CMI - Cockerill Maintenance et Ingénierie/ Mr. Mohammed Guerbaoui, Sales Director, Swallow Tech) in the course of an interactive interview moderated by Mrs. Evelien STAELENS, Area Manager Middle East & North Africa at Flanders Investment and Trade.

To bring to a close this interesting seminar, the participants had the opportunity to establish contacts and exchange their business cards during a networking buffet where they also had the chance to exchange with both Ministers.

Arab-Belgian-Luxembourg Economic Forum: “The GCC: one of the world’s fastest growing region…”

10 May 2017

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Rapidly growing economies, strategic location, new diversification plans, economic and political stability, primary destination for investors and entrepreneurs seeking to establish operations in the MENA Region… These are some of the many assets that make the GCC one of the best Economic and Trade Partners.

Given the multiple assets of GCC countries, the Arab-Belgian-Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce has decided to dedicate to the GCC market its traditional Economic Forum, organized for the 11th consecutive year on 10 May 2017 in BNP Paribas Fortis sumptuous premises.

To that purpose, the ABLCC invited an interesting panel of local and international experts to share insights, knowledge, and know-how with a view to give the audience all necessary tools to fully benefit from the advantages and opportunities offered by the GCC!

After a welcome note by Mr. Peter Pollaert, Head Cash Management and Global Trade Solutions at BNP Paribas Fortis, and Mr. Qaisar Hijazin, Secretary General of the ABLCC, Mr. Peter Young, Deputy Head of Unit, South Mediterranean and Middle East, DG Trade at the European Commission, Started the panel “Aspect of protocol and business practices in the GCC” inviting us to grasp the reality behind this year’s theme. Mr. Young gave the audience an overview of the strong trade relationship between the EU and the GCC, highlighting the fact that “the EU is GCC's first trading partner, accounting for 16.6% of GCC total trade”. The GCC is the fourth export market of the EU with 5.7% of its exports going to the GCC.

Mr. Fahad Al-Jaimaz, Counsellor at the Embassy of Kuwait, then took the floor to present the Biggest projects under the new development plan 2015-2020. “The State of Kuwait is currently in the midst of its second mega economic development plan, which includes investments of over USD 103 billion in projects related to oil, gas, electricity, water, housing, health, education, transport, communications, tourism, and the environment”.

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HEM Mohamed Issa Abushahab, Ambassador of the UAE, in turn, presented business opportunities in the UAE for Belgian and Luxembourg companies, pointing up to the fact that the EU was UAE's top trading partner in 2015 with a total trade value of USD 67 billion. “Strengthening trade relations, expanding Investments, and improving climate for doing business are UAE's trade objectives in a nutshell. He then made the audience more familiar with the Dubai 2020 event.

After a short film focusing on Bahrain and its blooming market, Mr. Nabil Jijakli, Deputy CEO at Credendo Group, gave the participants an International economic outlook and reviewed what would be the major risks for the future.

After these interesting presentations, the participants had the chance to take part to an interactive double interview “success stories and history of doing business in the GCC / Belgium / Luxembourg” moderated by Mr. Fouad Trad, CEO at Byblos Bank Europe. Mr. Trad skillfully guided through this interview Mr. Fadel Al Faraj, Managing Director at Kuwait Petroleum, and Mr. Ghassan Ejjeh, Senior Vice President at Besix. Both of them shared their success stories along with their perspective on doing business with Europe and the Arab world respectively.

Their well-founded observations along with their sound advice have been highly appreciated by the attendees.

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As usual, this Major event brought together decision makers, government officials, Arab Ambassadors accredited to Brussels, Arab diplomats, the ABLCC board members, Belgian Foreign Trade Agencies, business executives, investors, and professional organizations from Belgium, Luxembourg, the EU, and Arab countries and was once was once again a suitable place to meet and exchange on current issues without any taboos.

To complete such an interesting afternoon, the participants had the opportunity to establish contacts during a networking cocktail, which was an ideal opportunity to meet and exchange views with the various experts in a relaxed atmosphere.

2nd Annual Iraqi – European Business and Investment Forum

17-18 May 2017

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The ABLCC actively took part to the “2nd Annual Iraqi – European Business & Investment Forum” organized by the Arab-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce & Development in Athens.

This “2nd Annual Iraqi-European Forum” was under the auspices of the President of Iraq, the Ministries of Economy and Development and of Foreign Affairs of Greece, the Union of Arab Chambers and the Federation of Iraqi Chambers of Commerce, with the contribution and support of Baghdad Chamber of Commerce along with the Representation of the European Commission in Greece, Al-Bilad Bank of Iraq and the Arab-European Joint Chambers as supporting organizations.

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The three sessions started with “Iraq’s Investment Opportunities”, which were presented by highlevel Iraqi speakers, followed by “Iraq’s Oil, Gas and Sustainable Energy Sectors” and the third session on “Potential for Infrastructure Projects in Iraq”, which was moderated by Mr. Qaisar Hijazin, Secretary General of the Arab-Belgian-Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce.

The last two sessions were presented by high-level Iraqi, Greek and European speakers, outlining the potential of these sectors in light of the fact that Iraq is heading towards a new era of security, stability and reconstruction.

It is worth mentioning that the participants in this Forum exceeded in number the ones in the previous Iraqi Forum that was held back in April 2016.

 

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