International business community re-affirms commitment to Belgium


Under the slogan #Yes2Belgium, dozens of international corporations met yesterday with local chambers of commerce and the prime minister to discuss their commitment to continued investment

‘Third most globalised economy’

On 22 June, three months to the day after the bombings in Zaventem and Brussels, 11 foreign and international chambers of commerce – united since February under the Twitter banner #Yes2Belgium – hosted prime minister Charles Michel and a panel discussion at Brussels’ Steigenberger Wiltcher’s Hotel.

Attended by hundreds of members of the international business community, which employs 700,000 people in Belgium, the event aimed to reiterate that the country continues to be an attractive place to invest. The reason, the prime minister said, is that businesses trust Belgium, “the world’s third most globalised economy. Commerce and trade make up 80% of GDP. More than 2,000 foreign company headquarters are here.”

As for terrorism, he cited attacks and threats elsewhere in Europe, as well as the recent Orlando massacre. “We’re all facing the same threat.”

Panellist and Toyota Motor Europe CEO Johan Van Zyl said that “business doesn’t like surprises” and insisted that Belgium is not full of those, contrary to some media coverage. Brussels is a wonderful place to live,” he said, and to invest: Toyota is opening a new style and design centre in Zaventem. President and CEO of GE, Mark Hutchinson, was also present to discuss the company’s new training academy in Belgium.

Pfizer regional president Richard Blackburn extoled Belgium’s “stable, predictable tax environment and highly qualified scientists.” Bombardier Transportation president Per Allmer said that his company “always gets the best value from our people in Belgium”.

British Telecom’s president for Continental Europe, Corrodo Sciolla, cited Belgium’s world ranking in industry-university relations: sixth. “Predictability is what you look for when investing,” he added. “I haven’t had a single discussion that we should invest less in Belgium.”

Photo courtesy Charles Michel/Twitter