Your Excellency, Minister-President of the Flemish Government
Your Excellency, Ambassador Liao,
Your Excellency, Captain of the COSCO BELGIUM,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is an honor as well as a great pleasure to attend this remarkable event of the arrival of the ‘COSCO BELGIUM’ containership at the Port of Antwerp.
I am grateful to Ambassador Liao for his very kind invitation, as well as for his kind request to address some words to you here today. Words of enthusiasm, of proud, of optimism:
Enthusiasm,because this impressive Chinese containership is named after our country. This fantastic symbolic act means a lot to us, to our port. It underlines and affirms the excellent connections, and the mutual friendship.
Proud, because today is the very first day of the visit of the ‘COSCO BELGIUM’ to the Port of Antwerp. Being on board, one cannot but be impressed by this enormous ship: it has a capacity of no less than 100, 000 tons! I express my sincere hope that after this day, many visits will follow.
Optimistic,because of the future and all the opportunities that lie ahead. As a member of the provincial executive board responsible for economy and international cooperation, I have formulated and stressed in my policy plan the importance of further strengthening, deepening and broadening our relations with China in economy and trade related issues. Thanks to the presence of the port of Antwerp, the second largest port of Europe, our economy has always been directed and oriented towards the outside world. Global trading is one of the prominent pillars of our economy and thus it is our concern to safeguard the interests of the trading partners.
A sound basis of cooperation between the provinces of Antwerp and Shaanxi has been established since 1985, supporting the investment project of Janssen Pharmacy in Shaanxi. It turned out being a success story in China, resulting in a memorandum of cooperation between our two provinces. Today, we also maintain excellent contacts with Chongqing as well as with Tianjin - the port city of Beijing.
Later on this year, our province, by means of our development authority, will even host the second edition of THE ANTWERP FORUM - Linking Business between China and Europe. THE ANTWERP FORUM will be the meeting place for Chinese and European business leaders. The central theme of this year's forum is intercultural awareness, a key factor in successful cooperation between China and Europe. We are proud to announce that Mr. Jacques Rogge, President of the International Olympic Committee will be among the keynote speakers.
The economic booming of China and the strong position of China in the world has given rise to intensive interactions between China and Antwerp. COSCO Belgium, China Shipping are strong and excellent examples of the Chinese presence in Belgium.
Even now, in harsh global economic times, the Antwerp province has the firm ambition to contribute to overall prosperity of the people of both our countries.
So, at this lovely day, let us celebrate our achievements, and let us look forward to an even stronger cooperation in the future.
Member of the Provincial Executive Board
Responsible for Economy and International Cooperation
President of the Development Authority of the Province of Antwerp (POM Antwerp)