Steven Vanachere (M), Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Institutional Reform of Belgium, at media briefing in Beijing on October 21, 2011.[By Li Huiru/China.org.cn]
Belgium's Prince Philippe arrived in China on October 21 with the largest Belgian trade delegation ever to visit the country in celebration of 40 years of diplomatic relations between Belgium and China. The Belgian delegation will be in the country until Oct. 29.
As one of the largest delegations ever organized by Belgium, Prince Philippe is accompanied by Princess Mathilde, as well as four government ministers and 223 Belgian business and education leaders as part of a drive to increase trade between the two countries.
"We see that the financial crisis hasn't affected China's impressive growth rate too much," Steven Vanachere, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Institutional Reform of Belgium, said at media briefing in Beijing on October 21, 2011. "In that sense, I think everybody understands why this mission in 2011 is as big as it was in 2007, as if there had been no crisis in between."
The economic mission will focus specifically on transportation and logistics, clean technology, health and pharmaceutical products and Information Communication Technology.
In addition to these four major sectors, the mission will also focus on touting its diamond business. The Belgian city of Antwerp is the center of the world's diamond trade. With China's rapid economic growth, its consumer market has become a key focus in recent years. "The diamond sector accounts for 12.4 percent of the total exports of Belgium to China," said Steven Vanachere.
Over 50 specific agreements or MOUs are expected to be signed during the 9-day trip.
"Room for improvement"
When asked about the China-EU trade relationship at the background of the European sovereign crisis, Steven Vanachere commented, "There's much room for improvement."
Vanachere said that Europe remained a mature market for many, despite the fact that the Euro crisis has slowed European growth.
He also said that an improvement in trade relations between China and Europe will take some time, as many people feel that US-Europe trade relations will continue to take precedence until at least 2025.
Besides the traditional stops, such as Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin, the delegation will also visit Chongqing Guangzhou and Shenzhen. These cities are notable for having either a higher growth rate than the traditional cities, or outstanding growth and development potential. The delegation will meet with several Chinese regional ministers during the course of the trip.
"It is clear that the cooperation between the federal and regional governments is very much at the heart of our efforts." Steven Vanachere said. "Doing business is not only about economic calculators, it's also about nourishing trust."