Toronto – The Belgian Canadian Business Chamber (“BCBC”) is proud to announce that Xavier Van Overmeire, Regional Head of the International Trade Group (Montreal) of Dentons LLP, has been appointed President of the BCBC. The BCBC aims to foster contacts and relationships for its members who share an interest in developing business and trade opportunities between Canada and Belgium.
Xavier has an extensive expertise in multi-jurisdictional transactions, including international mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures and strategic alliances, and his wealth of experience representing notably Canadian and Belgian companies before international courts of law makes him an ideal candidate for this position.
Moreover, Xavier is Fellow of the Centre d’études et de recherches internationales de l’Université de Montréal (CÉRIUM) and is regularly invited by various international associations and corporations as a speaker on free trade agreements, most particularly on the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (the “CETA”) between EU and Canada.
“We are delighted to welcome Xavier to the leadership of the BCBC. He brings a solid experience of international business development and a deep knowledge of the Canadian-Belgian network to the Chamber. We express our support and our best wishes for success” said André van der Heyden and Christian Frayssignes, Vice-presidents of the BCBC.
As we start off 2019, I have the pleasure to share with you the highlights of a very busy and successful 2018 for the BCBC. For the fourth year in a row, we have held a significant number of high-caliber events, and have continued to build on new initiatives to serve you better.
For the second year in a row, we opened our “events season” with a “Wine & Food with the Belgians”, hosted by our friends at Dentons. This is a great opportunity to not only take care of your membership, but to also have a great time with your friends from the BCBC community and exploring different wines and cheeses. We will be hosting such an event again this January 24th, and I look forward to seeing each and every one of you there. This year’s Guest of Honour will be the Ambassador’s wife, Ms. Kathleen Billen, author of “.be our guest – the ambassadors of Belgian hospitality”, which highlights Belgium’s exquisite gastronomic products and features recipes from Michelin-starred Belgian chefs!
We have continued to seek out new partnerships adding CFO Source and Tailwinds Accounting to our repertoire of partners, and we continue to explore several exciting opportunities. We have also engaged in a number of activities with our various partners this year, including joint events with OWIT, EUCCAN, and our fellow EU Chambers in Canada. Please visit our website to find out the great benefits these partnerships can offer you.
2018 marked the 100th Anniversary of some of the major battles of World War I and most importantly, the Armistice ending “The Great War”, and along with the rest of the world, we participated in celebrations, notably VisitFlanders’ “Centennial Designation of Peace Year” celebrations in March. In rather stark contrast to the quiet reflections on peace and remembrance of those who sacrificed on the behalf of their contemporaries which accompany any celebration of large-scale conflict, 2018 also provided for much more light-hearted and animated celebration as national teams battled it out on the fields of the FIFA World Cup; with a strong team, the Belgian Red Devils were considered strong contenders for the title, and Belgians throughout Canada and the world rode a roller-coaster of emotions as the Red Devils fought their way through the field, finishing a respectable third.
We have continued our very successful Business with Belgium series, exploring the opportunities and challenges of CETA, and with the October edition taking a look at the EU’s new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). This look considered both the impact which GDPR would have on Canadian companies doing business in Europe, as well as how GDPR might serve as a template for Canada’s efforts to update our own e-privacy regulations.
For the seventh year, we partnered with the International Economic Forum for the Americas on their Toronto Global Forum, which is committed to heighten knowledge and awareness of the major issues concerning economic globalization, with a particular emphasis on the relations between the Americas and other continents.
It is noteworthy that organizations such as Export Development Canada, CIMA Canada, and IE Canada continue to attend our events; this shows us that other organizations are being drawn to our doorstep as a resource for international learning and networking. We continue to be recognized as the go-to organization for guidance and representation of all things Belgian.
In addition to our recurring series – Belgians in Canada (BIC), Business with Belgium (BWB), and Frites Night – we have partnered on several events with our friends and partners, with topics as diverse as how philanthropy could apply the lessons and methods of the for-profit sector, developing a global mindset and exporting through Canada’s progressive trade agenda and the gastronomic economies of European countries. CHOQ-FM once again asked us to take part in the launch of their new program schedule, with an increased focus on current events and/or business affairs; as we partnered with them a number of times this past year on such topics, they requested that we speak to our collaboration.
In November 2015, we held our first-ever charitable event; a fundraiser benefitting the Labatt Family Heart Centre for Sick Kids Hospital for whom we managed to raise $1,398. Due to the success of this event, we decided to make this an annual undertaking, and moved it to the more symbolic date of December 6th, better known in Belgium as Saint-Nicholas; as the patron saint for children, it seems only fitting that we come together as a community to support Sick Kids on this date. For the fourth year in a row, we carried on this tradition, and in this time have raised approximately $6000 for this worthy cause; thank you all for your support in this effort. A special thanks goes out to all of our sponsors who provided us with food, drinks and raffle prizes.
As some may recall, in 2010 the chamber was on the verge of closure. At the end of 2015 we closed the renaissancephase of the BCBC, having successfully rebuilt it to be one of the most active and vibrant European chambers in Canada. 2016 saw the start of the next phase of growth and expansion, in which we will be offering more and new services for business, more opportunities to network and learn, more events, and more added value for your BCBC membership. This phase has continued to progress steadily throughout 2018, and we are going to continue to build a solid reputation as the go-to point of contact for both Canadian companies wanting to do business with Belgium as well as Belgian companies expanding into Canada. We continue to maintain and foster a strong relationship with our various Trade Commissioners throughout Canada such that we may all provide as comprehensive a resource as possible. We thank you for your continued support as we continue to build a better and stronger Belgian Canadian Business Chamber
Without our sponsors much of what we do would not be possible. We are very thankful for the continued support from our sponsors: Brussels Airlines, Labatt, AGFA Gevaert, Aird & Berlis LLP, Dentons LLP, KPMG, The Belgian Chocolate Shop, Puratos, McCain, Atlas Copco, Goslett Wong – Business Immigration Law Group, MTFX, HRWare, Gerrard-Boden Management, Groupe Estelle de France, Mardalvi, TWC International Executive Search, A. Hartrodt, and Léon Collet Translation.
2018 has been an exciting year, and we are already getting geared up for an even more exciting 2019. We really do appreciate your feedback; I encourage you to get in touch with us via the “Contact Us” page on our website and let us know what you’d like from your Chamber. We have also begun a modernization project of our website, so please let us know what you’d like to see. If you haven’t already done so, I invite you to join our social networks on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
I look forward to seeing each and every one of you at our upcoming Wine & Food with the Belgians on January 24th!
The Embassy of Canada to Belgium and Luxembourg is hiring an Investment Officer. This is an excellent opportunity to build, maintain and develop a strong pipeline and network of new investment leads into Canada from the Benelux region. Deadline to apply is Feb 2, 2019. Details in the link:http://wfca-tpce.com/vacancyView.php?requirementId=%202684&
On November 16 at the KPMG offices at 333 Bay Street the Belgian Canadian Business Chamber hostedseminar on the recently announced European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
In his opening remarks, Christian Frayssignes, vice-president of the Canadian Belgian Canadian Business Chamber (CBBC)reported that in the first year of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with the 28-member European Union,Canadian exports increased 3.3 -per cent imports rose 12.5 per cent.
André van der Heyden, CBBC vice-president and COO also remindedthe audience that Brussels is the de facto capital of Europe being the home for several major European Union governing bodies as well as the ideal entry point for goods to reach more than half of the EU’s 510 million consumers
Cristina Onosé, Director Canadian Marketing Association,explainsthat under General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), Canadian firms must strengthen their IT data security practices and procedures to comply with of the EU’s requirement. As of November 1, 2018, its mandatory data breach notification willbe coming into force in Canada.
GDPRrequires Canadian firms doing business with the EU to notify the Privacy Commissioner of Canada and all affected individuals if they suffer any type of loss of personal information that causes a real risk of majorharm. If Canadian companies offering goods or services to European Union (EU) residents or monitor the behavior of EU residents within the EU, they will now need to comply with strict new rules around how they collect, handle and secure information.
Says Derek Lackey, Toronto-based Managing Director of Newport Thomson, a data & privacy compliance consulting firm, “ concludes that Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), which sets out the privacy obligations that firms must adhere to when they handlingpersonal information obtained in commercial is no longer adequate.
He supports GDPR proposedrules requiring firms to protect the personal and other data of their consumers and clients and formally requesting permission to share the personal data which they have collected. As well, he supports imposing penalties for non-compliance which do not exist under PIPEDA. “Enforcement is the key to protecting Canadians’ personal electronically collected data,“ he says.
Lackey also notes that the so-called FANG group of high-tech titans Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google may soon face huge fines from European and other regulators for their casual approach to sharing and selling their consumer data without informed consent.
In his comments, Donald Johnson, a partner with the law firm Air& Berlis and Honorary Consul General of Belgium in Toronto explained that existing data protection rules are inadequate in the today’s IT world based on involving external cloud computing solutions. He also notes that since 2012, the European Union has moved forward to become the worldleader in consumer data protection laws. He says, “Originally, personal data protection laws were based on principles, not rules.”
He also mentions that many Canadian firms believe that they do not need to meet the new GDPR rules.But if they have any business links with European firms, they should check if they need to comply. In fact, at the end of 2017, almost 40 per cent of EU companies were not ready for the new legislation.
In her comments, Sharon Bauer, a partner with the consulting firm KPMG outlined that GDPR requires that forms must inform regulators that their data system has been breached and if there is severe damage tocustomer dataits cause and how it was repaired. Failure tocomply may lead to severe fines.
However, Bauer concludes that a positive certificate of assessment becomesa seal of approval for the firm that increases the comfort level of its customers buying their products or services.
“It assures them ‘You can do business securely with us’.”
It’s a great tool for Canadian businesses to expand their export markets as well as their supplier base
October 30, 2018 by Christian Siviere.Article reproduced courtesy of Inside Logistics magazine.
Signed in October 2016, CETA, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between Canada and the European Union has now been in effect a year, as it was provisionally implemented on September 21st, 2017.
Most of its provisions are in effect since that date, particularly the reduction of tariffs or Customs duties, the opening of government procurement, the mutual recognition of standards and the facilitation of the movement of professionals. It’s a great tool for Canadian businesses to expand their export markets as well as their supplier base, thereby lessening our dependence on the United States.
While its overall impact, particularly on services and investment is hard to measure at this relatively early stage, looking at our statistics on the trade of goods with the EU should tell us how popular CETA is with Canadian exporters. There are different ways to calculate exports but the figures commonly quoted by Global Affairs Canada indicate European exporters have been faster than us, as up to July 2018, Canadian exports to the EU have grown by a mere one per cent while our imports from the EU have increased by a whopping 12 per cent.
Of course, Canadian businesses have their eyes riveted on what’s happening with NAFTA, since so much of our trade is with the U.S. and this explains why they have not yet rushed to the conquest of the European market. Ironically, for European businesses, the Canadian market is small but still has good potential, as we are so close to the huge U.S. market.
Whatever the reason for the current imbalance, it is interesting to look at what’s happening at the individual country level. Canadian exports to the UK, by far our first European market, were down three per cent, as we exported $15.240 billion worth of goods there from September 2017 to July 2018, compared to $15.789 the year before. Exports to our third European market, France, were down eight per cent from $3.085 billion to $2.827 billion and to Belgium down five per cent from $2.674 billion to $2.537 billion.
On the plus side of the ledger, exports to our second European market, Germany, were up six per cent, from $3.358 billion to $3.556 billion. Exports to the Netherlands were up 23 per cent from $2.420 billion to $2.965 billion, and those to Italy climbed by 19 per cent from $2.120 billion to $2.536 billion.
Canadian exports with notable growth included aluminum, automobile parts, chemicals, cranberries, and maple syrup. Most of these products are exported by ocean and the Port of Montréal, Canada’s gateway to Europe, reported a four per cent growth in its European container traffic from January to August 2018 versus the same period in 2017.
As to CETA’s final implementation, twelve European countries out of 28 have ratified it, the latest one being Austria in June 2018. The process continues, albeit slowly. Its only provisions that are pending final ratification of all EU member parliaments concern investor-state dispute settlement and portfolio investment.
Meantime, trade remains wide open under CETA’s provisional implementation and our exporters should bring Europe closer to the top of their agenda.
Do you need a new passport in the coming months and do you wish to have your biometric data taken in during a visit from the Flying Kit in Toronto on 7 and 8 November 2018? This link will explain you how to proceed.
Hebt u in de volgende maanden een nieuw paspoort nodig en wenst u uw biometrische gegevens te laten opnemen tijdens het bezoek van de Flying Kit in Toronto op 7 en 8 november 2018? U vindt de procedure in deze link.
Vous avez besoin d’un nouveau passeport dans les mois à venir ? Il vous est possible de faire enregistrer vos données biométriques lors de la visite du « flying kit » à Toronto les 7 et 8 novembre 2018? Toutes les informations sont disponibles dans ce lien.
Statistics Canada’s latest data shows that Canadian exports to Belgium, which amounted to $198 million in December and went down to $163 million in January, were down again to $96 million in February. Canadian imports from Belgium on the other hand, which came to $114 million in December and were down slightly in January to $110 million, went back up to $133 million in February. So as we can see from these figures, our bilateral trade fluctuates and it will be interesting to see how it will evolve in the coming months.
Overall, Canada’s imports declined 0.7% in February while exports were up 0.4%, compared to January, reducing the Canadian merchandise trade deficit with the world from $1.5 billion in January to $984 million in February. Continue reading →