Belgians challenge

BELGIUM is stepping up a notch and challenging The Netherlands’ role as the ‘Gateway to Europe’.

A delegation representing Flanders, part of the Federation of Belgium, was pushing the virtues of the coastal country at a recent visit to Perth.

Flanders economic commissioner Oscar Cousy said the country offered many benefits to WA companies seeking to do business in Europe.

Mr Cousy said the European Monetary Union and the introduction of a single European currency – the Euro – meant trade and trade risk were now minimal between European countries.

Flanders-Belgium offered good tax incentives for companies as well as a high-skilled, multilingual workforce, Mr Cousy said.

Belgium is also attractive because the European parliament and its associated bureaucracy was based in the Belgian capital, Brussels, according to Mr Cousy.

Many decisions that have ramifications on trade throughout Europe are made in Brussels. For this reason lobby groups had also chosen Belgium as their base, he said.

Mr Cousy said this was important for WA agricultural companies who needed to lobby bureaucracy on issues of access to markets.

Chamber of Commerce and Industry international trade centre manager Ian Whitaker said both Belgium and The Netherlands offered good opportunities to companies wishing to enter the European market.

Mr Whitaker said, whereas England had been a traditional base for Australian companies, the alternatives in Belgium and The Netherlands were far more attractive because of their close affiliation, both culturally and economically, with greater Europe.

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