Belgium is looking for closer economic ties with China given the upcoming largest-ever business mission which will visit the country as Europe and China make headway in trade relations which would include a possible investment agreement, bucking the headwinds posed by global trade uncertainties.
"Belgium really needs China to work together to promote multilateral free trade globally. For Belgium, China is a solution to assisting many economic and social problems," said Marc Vinck, the Belgian ambassador to China.
The bilateral investment treaty has made some progress and is expected to be concluded by next year, he noted.
"For European companies, the treaty will help create a better investment climate. It will also drive a more balanced economic relationship between China and Europe," Vinck said.
In the face of trade uncertainties, Vinck said they do not want unilateralism and that Belgium wants to cooperate with China in actively promoting multilateral economic development worldwide.
His remarks came before a Belgian economic mission led by Princess Astrid which will visit China from Nov 17. With 632 participants that also include 465 business representatives, the mission is said to be the largest ever in Belgian history.
"More than 60 business and official agreements are expected to be signed, with sectors including life sciences, food and beverage, luxury, lifestyle as well as clean tech being a major focus," said Fabienne L'Hoost, director-general of the Belgian Foreign Trade Agency.
Belgium is China's sixth-largest trading partner in the European Union. By the end of last year, the bilateral trade volume hit $26 billion and Belgian businesses had invested $2 billion in China's chemical, pharmaceutical and electronic equipment sectors.
Chinese businesses have also vigorously explored opportunities in the European country. Their investment in Belgium totaled $660 million over the same period.
"It is a sign of confidence and trust in the ability of Belgian actors to forge new partnerships. We are proud of the strong and growing relations with the second largest economy in the world," Vinck said.
With the massive Singles Day shopping spree which just ended in China, many goods are expected to be transferred between countries through an e-commerce train where one of its destinations is Belgium, he noted.
Last month, a train bound for Liege, Belgium, made its first journey from China's commodities hub of Yiwu. The route was under the auspices of the electronic World Trade Platform, an initiative proposed by Alibaba in 2016 to facilitate cross-border trade among SMEs through the assistance of payments and logistical technologies.
"As small - and medium-sized businesses are one of major driving forces of Chinese economy, we also see the similar strong willingness of Belgian SMEs in linking with China," Vinck added.
Source: China Daily