Seminar in Durban showcasing Wallonia as a gateway to the EU 09/11/2021

On November 3rd, 2021, the AWEX Johannesburg office co-organised its hybrid seminar “Belgium: gateway to Europe for Kwazulu-Natal companies” with Trade and Investment Kwazulu-Natal (TIKZN) at the Durban Capital Pearls. Thanks to our partners from the Embassy of the Kingdom of Belgium in Pretoria and Flanders Investment and Trade (FIT), and our supporters Liege Airport, the Port of Antwerp, the Belgian Chamber of Commerce for Southern Africa (BCCSA), and the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the event was a success!

With over 100 registrations both in-person and online, our high-profile and passionate panel of speakers generated the interest of many South Africans companies to do business with Belgium.  

The Belgian Ambassador to South Africa, Didier Vanderhasselt, opened the floor by emphasizing how Belgium is the main gateway to the EU and similarly, how Durban serves as a gateway to Southern Africa. Donnee Kruger, Manager at Trade and Investment Kwazulu-Natal, also called for more trade between Belgium and Kwazulu-Natal.

Jean-Pierre Muller, Trade Commissioner at AWEX Johannesburg, took the floor with a good dose of humour and self-derision to reveal what he calls "the magic of Wallonia", namely its strategic position and unique accessibility by road, rail, air and water to target the world's largest single market of 500 billion consumers. Luc Fabry, Trade Commissioner at Flanders Trade and Investment (FIT), detailed the financial incentives for foreign companies to trade goods in and from Belgium.

We then passed on to the logistical facilities Belgium has to offer: Bert Selis, VP Commercial Cargo and Logistics of Liege Airport, explained how Europe’s leading cargo airport is not only a multimodal gateway to Europe, but also to Africa, offering manifold opportunities to South African air shippers. Finally, Belgium's extraordinary value proposition in the logistics sector was also showcased by Tineke Van De Voorde, Business Development Advisor at the Port of Antwerp, the largest Belgian seaport.

Claudine Vandenabeele, General Manager of the Belgian Chamber of Commerce, closed the session with a vote of thanks to the speakers and the attendees.

Following the presentations, attendees engaged with the speakers in a dynamic Q&A session and demonstrated a real interest into Wallonia’s privileged location and connections to expand their businesses in Europe.