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Remarks by Ambassador Qu Xing at FCCC 10th Anniversary and Chinese New Year Reception
2015-02-27 16:26

Dear Chairman De Graeve,

Dear Minister-President Bourgeois,

Dear Chairman Phillips,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Dear friends,

It gives me great pleasure to join you at this reception to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Flanders-China Chamber of Commerce (FCCC) and Chinese New Year of Goat. Over the past decade, China-Belgium trade has travelled a momentous journey. The average annual growth rate of bilateral trade reached 16.4%. In 2005, bilateral trade exceeded 10 billion US dollars for the first time. In 2008, the figure doubled to over 20 billion US dollars. In 2014, bilateral trade amounted to 27.3 billion US dollars, which is the second best in history. Every seven hours of trade today is equivalent to that of the whole year in 1971, when the two countries established diplomatic relations. In January of this year, China Shipping Globe, the largest cargo ship in the world, with carrying capacity of 19,000 TEUs, arrived in Zeebrugge on its maiden voyage, which is living exhibition of enormous trade volume between China and Belgium.

Our trade relationship is mutually beneficial. For Belgium, imports from China provide Belgian households with sufficient supply of daily necessities, and save production cost for Belgian manufacturers, which is conducive to stabilizing prices and consolidating Belgium’s role as an important gateway to west Europe. While for China, imports from Belgium are beneficial for upgrading China’s industry and consumption structure. Every year, Belgium exports to China diamonds worth of more than 5 billion US dollars. A diamond wedding ring has become the perfect combination of Chinese tradition and Western fashion. As Neuhaus and other Belgian chocolate brands enter the Chinese market, young people in China find it hard to resist the temptation to have a bite of European flavor. AB InBev owns 40 breweries in China and many well-known brands such as stella artois, leff, and hoegaarden. Chinese people are never afraid of strong liquor, and certainly will not miss the opportunity to have a hearty drink of Belgian beer.

Two-way investment is equally exciting. As forerunner of cooperation with China, Belgian enterprises bring to China advanced concepts, technologies and equipments, and are well rewarded from China's vast market. The Bekaert Group led by Mr. De Graeve has always believed in business prospects in China, and invested $ 1 billion in China on accumulative terms. Now, Bekaert has 20 production and R & D centers in China, making important contributions to the upgrading of China's automotive, construction, energy and other industries. Solvay Chemical has 17 production and R & D centers in China, and is working with China to develop high-performance formula, advanced new materials, performance chemicals, and functional polymers. Umicore Group has almost 20 factories in China which produce automotive catalysts, and recycle non-ferrous metals, taking concrete actions to support the China’s pursuit of green development, environmental protection, new materials and recycling economy. Picanol has been cooperating with China for half a century, exporting to China large quantities of advanced textile machinery, training a number of Chinese professionals, and promoting the upgrading of China's textile industry.

China’s investment to Belgium, on the other hand, has become a new impetus to the two countries’ cooperation. The Volve Ghent plant owned by Zhejiang Geely Holding Group of China enjoys continuous growth. Its production reached 264,000 in 2014, accounting for 50% of total automotive production in Belgium. As production expands, Volvo Ghent factory employs more people. Up until now, the factory has 5,300 people who work "three shifts" every day in order to meet with fast growing market demand. Huawei and ZTE have gained rapid development in Belgium’s communications equipment market. While providing quality services to local companies and consumers, they also invest more in R & D, and innovation. The League Group acquired the famous Belgian luggage brand Hedgren, intending to combine Belgium’s advantage in design and brand with China's advantage in manufacturing and market, in an effort to make Hedgren an international brand. At present, Hedgren has opened its flagship store on Champs-Élysées Avenue. Its office in Antwerp has moved from a few rooms in the neighborhood into an independent office building. Its employees have grown from a few people to nearly 50 people.

The prospect for future cooperation is promising. Currently, China's economic development has entered a stage of new normal, and will maintain moderate-to-rapid growth in a period from now on. China pursues a balanced growth of domestic and external demand, import and export, foreign investment and overseas investment. In the next five years, China’s accumulated import will exceed 10 trillion US dollars. In the next 10 years, China's overseas investment will reach 1.25 trillion US dollars. This will provide countries in the world including Belgium with more opportunities in terms of market, growth, investment and cooperation. In 2014, Chinese President Xi Jinping paid a historic state visit to Belgium, and the two countries issued Joint Declaration on deepening the all-round friendly and cooperative partnership. China highly values Belgium’s advantage as the "heart" of European economy, and is ready to work with Belgian side to foster new growth point in the field of new economy, green economy and circular economy. Joint efforts will be made to explore means and resources to bind the Chinese-European cooperation to the construction of the Silk Road economic belt, and develop the great Eurasian market. In 2015, high-level exchanges between China and Belgium will maintain good momentum, which will create new opportunities for our mutually beneficial cooperation.

Ladies and gentlemen, the past 10 years witnessed birth and growth of FCCC along with the desirable development of China-Belgium cooperation in economy and trade. Mr. De Graeve and our dear friends from the Flemish business community have made extraordinary contributions to Belgium’s cooperation with China. Hereby, allow me to express my sincere thanks on behalf of the Chinese Embassy. Let us build on past achievements to make new progress, and create a better future of mutually beneficial and practical cooperation.

Last but not least, I wish everyone good luck in the Year of Goat!

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