Les derniers développements du CETA

Xavier Van Overmeire est avocat en droit des affaires et du commerce international chez Dentons, Fellow au Centre d’études et de recherches internationales de l’Université de Montréal (CÉRIUM), et directeur du Belgian Canadian Business Chamber (BCBC).

Dans cet entretien de la série “Planète Terre”, il explique les derniers développements du CETA, dont le parlement européen à pris vote dernièrement. Pour en savoir encore plus sur le CETA, consultez “Les grandes lignes de l’Accord économique et commercial global entre le Canada et l’Union européenne

Why you should say #Yes2Belgium

Last week, the citizens of the United Kingdom voted by a slim margin to leave the European Union, although there was clear disparity in the voice of the UK’s various regions. While there is no precedence for what will happen next, everyone is in agreement that there will be high levels of uncertainty as to Britain’s future, particularly in relationship to the EU. While the UK will technically remain a member of the EU for at least two years following the instigation of Article 50 discussions – the equivalent of a divorce settlement – they will obviously have a significantly reduced voice during this period. What exactly does this mean for business?

This is the question which must now be at the forefront of the agenda for any company which currently does business in Europe, or which has aspirations to do so. For Canadian companies, the most immediate concern is that the UK will no longer be party to the Comprehensive Economic & Trade Agreement (CETA) which Canada negotiated with the EU, and which is expected to be ratified in early 2017. Canadian companies must therefore reconsider their position with respect to the UK; while the latter has traditionally been the logical choice for Canadian companies, given a common language and similar legal structure, Canadians will now have to question whether these commonalities will be reason enough to trump the upcoming challenges in the business relationship between the UK and the world’s largest single market.

If the answer to the above question is “no”, then alternatives must be sought. In this context, Belgium becomes an even more attractive destination for Canadian businesses looking to invest and/or expand their operations into Europe. What makes Belgium such an attractive option?

  • Belgium has a very high level of linguistic and cultural fluency; with four languages on our borders – French, German, Dutch, and English across the Channel – and a rich cultural history of our own, Belgians are known for being multi-lingual and adapting to different cultures with ease.
  • Belgium has long been known as “the crossroads of Western Europe”, and is located squarely in the middle of the “Blue Banana”, which represents 60% of Europe’s buying power; there are half a billion potential customers within a 4-hour drive of Brussels – this is 40 times as many customers as the equivalent distance from Toronto
  • Brussels, the capital of Belgium, is arguably the most important city within the EU and is the de facto capital of the world’s largest political bloc, housing the Commission, Parliament, and Council of the EU, as well as NATO headquarters.
  • Brussels is the home of a wide variety of major European political and trade organizations, which are represented by 5 000 diplomats, 15 000 lobbyists, and 1 500 international professional federations.
  • Belgium plays host to the decision centres of approximately 2 300 multinationals, and with a large expatriate community which makes Belgium a microcosm of the world, we are an ideal test market; if your product is successful in Belgium, it can be successful anywhere!
  • We have the densest road and rail network in all of Europe, as well as multiple top-rated international passenger and cargo airports and ports. Not only do we offer daily high-speed rail connections to major cities throughout Europe, Brussels Airport has the most landings of long-haul international flights, connecting with major global destinations.
  • The single largest recurring cost for any business is rent, whether office or industrial space; corporate rent in Belgium is amongst the lowest in Western Europe, averaging ¼ of that in London, and ½ of that in Paris or Frankfurt, while being conveniently placed in the centre of all three cities.
  • We have an extremely welcoming regulatory environment and an extremely competitive effective corporate tax structure, with several programs & initiatives in place to support business and trade.
  • It’s easier to establish a business in Belgium than anywhere in the EU – this can be done online in only 4 days!

To learn more about why Belgium is your perfect solution to the challenges posed by Brexit, check out our Business with Belgium Trade and Investment Seminar series!

What are you waiting for? It’s time for you to also say #Yes2Belgium!

Emission spéciale sur les attentats de Bruxelles

IMG_5294En solidarité avec la communauté belge dans le sillage des attentats à l’aéroport de Bruxelles et  dans la station de métro Maelbeek le 22 mars dernier, la Coopérative radiophonique de Toronto (CRT) en partenariat avec la Belgian Canadian Business Chamber, vous propose une émission spéciale ce jeudi 31 mars. Les animatrices de la CRT, en l’occurrence Raky Toure et Lisa Nanoff, auront dans les studios de CHOQ FM plusieurs intervenants dont:

 

  • M. André van der Heyden, le vice-président et directeur des opérations du Belgian Canadian Business Chamber (BCBC)
  • M. Christian Frayssignes, le vice-président et liason EUCCAN du Belgian Canadian Business Chamber (BCBC)
  • Mme. Anne Dollendorf, la consultante en communications de marketing
  • Mme. Magali Labé, la coordinatrice de projets, Franco-Fierté
  • M. Frank Murari, le délégué commercial de l’Agence wallonne à l’Exportation et aux Investissements Etrangers (AWEX)

D’autres interventions sont à prévoir dont celles de:

  • S.E. Raoul Delcorde, l’ambassadeur de la Belgique au Canada,
  • Maitre Xavier Van Overmeire, le chef régional de commerce international de la firme Dentons LLP
  • M. Patrice Malacort, expert en tourisme et aviation
  • Mme. Margaux Auboyneau, Agente commerciale, Atmosphère et Bois

Ecoutez l’ émission en deux parts chez CHOQ FM.

Le Centre francophone de Toronto a mis sur pied une ligne d’écoute afin de soutenir les ressortissants belges qui souhaiteraient un appui.

UNITY MAKES STRENGTH

Merci à notre partenaire CHOQ-FM pour la chronique version française.

It is with great sadness that we learned of the explosions which rocked Brussels, the capital of both Belgium and the European Union, yesterday morning. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of this senseless and cowardly act, as well as their families, friends, and all of our compatriots back home and abroad. The Belgian Canadian Business Chamber throws its support behind the Belgian government and its representatives here in Canada, led by H.E. Raoul Delcorde.

Julius Caesar once declared “Fortissimi sunt Belgae” which translates to “The Belgians are the bravest”, because our ancestors refused to be cowed by the Roman Legions. While we may not have the reputation for panache that our cousins in Paris have earned, many will remember that during the Brussels Lockdown which followed the Paris Attacks at the end of 2015, Belgians supported a request to not broadcast information about counter-terrorism operations across social media by instead flooding the internet with images of cats. We are resilient, we are brave, and we will live up to our national motto of “Unity Makes Strength” once again.YAOL3014Yesterday evening, Mayor John Tory joined Belgians from across the GTA at Nathan Phillips Square to show our solidarity for Belgium, during which a statement by H.E. Raoul Delcorde, was shared:

The Ambassador of Belgium, His Excellency Raoul Delcorde, would like to thank, in name of the Belgian people, all Canadians that have been sending messages of support. The Canadian government offered its condolences and support, Prime Minister Trudeau released a statement and Foreign Affairs Minister Dion spoke with the Ambassador on the phone. Belgium highly values and appreciates all these expressions of support during these sad times.

Prime Minister Charles Michel and the Belgian Government have been gathering throughout the day to coordinate the work of the police, army and security services. Hospitals and first responders have been doing a tremendous job. The threat level has been raised to 4 (out of 4) again and Brussels Airport was closed. Flights were diverted to other airports. Travelers should contact their airlines for any further information. Brussels Airport will remain closed at least tomorrow. Brussels was in lockdown but both train and metro traffic are coming back into operation.

His Majesty the King Philippe and Her Majesty the Queen Mathilde share in the national mourning and call on all Belgians to stay calm and firm after the cowardly attacks of this morning.

Prime Minister Michel called on all Belgians to stay united as Belgium will protect its way of living.

The Belgian Government decided on three days of national mourning, until Thursday March 24st in the evening. The Embassy will fly its flag half mast, so will numerous Canadian official organizations. We thank them for this. The Embassy of Belgium in Ottawa will open a book of condolence in Canada’s capital. Members of the public can also send their message to ottawa@diplobel.fed.be

Belgians in Canada seeking information on their families or friends can call the crisis center at 011 32 278151771

Canadians with a consular emergency wanting to reach Global Affairs Canada can call 1 800 23 26 68 31YAOL3140Mayor Tory then shared his own remarks, prior to leading the audience in a moment of silence:

May I begin by extending to the people of Brussels and all of the people of Belgium our heartfelt sympathies on the loss of life, the injuries, and the trauma caused by today’s terrorist attacks.

We have lit the iconic Toronto sign in the colours of the Belgian flag in tribute to Belgium, the people of Belgium, and all of the victims of these horrible atrocities, until tonight when it will be dimmed out of respect for our departed former mayor, Rob Ford.

Belgium is a peaceful friend and ally, with many connections to Canada and to Toronto, and to see these terrorist attacks launched against Belgium and the Belgian people is shocking and a reminder to us all of the fragility of democracy, of human life, and of public safety in this worrisome world.

I am here tonight to express my solidarity with the Belgian people, including those who have come to live with us here in Toronto. We love you, we grieve for you, and we stand with you, resolute in our desire to root out the few who commit these deranged acts and who represent no one but their own tiny number.YAOL3111We would like to thank Mayor Tory for having taken time away from the simultaneous tribute to his predecessor, Mayor Rob Ford, who passed away yesterday morning, and we extend our condolences to the Ford family for their loss.

Thank you also to Luca Viorel, for providing the photos of this vigil.

Lastly, we thank everyone throughout our community, both across Canada and across the world, for the outpouring of support we have received in the wake of this tragedy.

YAOL3144We must become bigger than we have been: more courageous, greater in spirit, larger in outlook. We must become members of a new race, overcoming petty prejudice, owing our ultimate allegiance not to nations but to our fellow men within the human community.” (Haile Selassie)

CETA breakthrough announced!

canada-eu_bigOn Monday, February 29th, The Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Minister of International Trade, and Cecilia Malmström, European Commissioner for Trade, released a statement announcing that that the legal review of the english (primary) version of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the European Union has been completed.

Global Affairs Canada (GAC) – formerly the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD) – has released the statement, noting amendments to the investment chapter. In particular, there is now stronger language on governments’ right to regulate, and the previously planned ad-hoc arbitration system has been replaced with a permanent, institutionalized dispute resolution tribunal, whose members will be appointed in advance and bound by a strict set of ethics regulations. There are also now provisions for an appeals system in place.

The European Commission’s Audiovisual Service, EbS News, has also posted footage of a brief press conference, during which Commissioner Malmström notes that this breakthrough is “a good sign that we can cooperate and we have listend to the concerns, and we have now finalized the agreement.” She further stated that “CETA is a very good agreement” which offers “companies improved business conditions to support jobs and facilitate trade.”

According to Commissioner Malmström, CETA will remove 99% of customs duties, which will lead to tariff savings alone of € 407 million (approximately Cdn$ 600 million).

EU flags

The Belgian Canadian Business Chamber Announces New Strategic Partnership with MTFX

The Belgian Canadian Business Chamber (BCBC), which fosters bilateral relationships between Belgium and Canada, has today announced a new strategic partnership with MTFX, one of the largest foreign exchange and payment solutions providers in Canada.

BCBC logo - marbleToronto, Ontario, Canada December 16, 2015 – The BCBC is pleased to announce a partnership with MTFX. The new partnership will enable the members of the BCBC to gain access to currency exchange and international payment processing capabilities at substantially lower costs than those offered by main street banks. The partnership will allow members access to MTFX’s web base platform, providing a single point of access for currency exchange and fast and efficient international payment services.

“The Belgian Canadian Business Chamber is always looking at ways to provide more benefits to our members and we are pleased to be able offer our community significant savings for fast, efficient international payment processing and currency exchange. In today’s economic reality of globalization – whether it be for large multinationals, SMEs or even individuals – these international transactions are taking place every day and will increase once CETA is finalized, particularly for SMEs who are the most likely to benefit from this historic accord. In our efforts to promote bilateral relations between Canada and Belgium, and taking this global economic reality into account, we are pleased to enter into this partnership with MTFX, which we believe will be of great benefit to our members,” stated André van der Heyden, Vice-President & Chief Operating Officer, Belgian Canadian Business Chamber.

The BCBC is based in Toronto and works to foster contacts and relationships for members who share an interest in developing business and trade opportunities between Canada and Belgium. The aim of the BCBC is to raise awareness of Belgium in the economic and media capital of Canada. For additional information, visit www.belgiumconnect.com.

MTFX_Logo_2014_V1_REVISED“This partnership with the Belgian Canadian Business Chamber is an extension of our existing value proposition as a “one-stop-shop” for international payments and currency exchange services. This integrated service approach is unique in the payments industry,” said Arif Harji, Chief Market Strategist, MTFX. “We see ourselves as facilitators for our customers and partners with a blend of “high-touch” and “high-tech” solutions.”

Launched in 1996, MTFX is one of Canada’s oldest and largest non-bank providers of currency exchange services and international payment solutions. MTFX’s success has been driven by offering transparent and competitive currency exchange rates as well as global payment solutions that are unmatched in the industry. MTFX prides itself on outstanding service levels that are driven by great people and great technology. For additional information, visit https://mtfxgroup.com.

TIFF 2015 will include the world premiere of some Belgian films!

Flanders Image has recently announced that Robin Pront’s feature debut The Ardennes and Adil El Arbi & Bilall Fallah’s second feature Black are to receive their world premieres as part of the ‘Discovery’ strand at this year’s 40th Toronto International Film Festival (10-20 September). The animated short Paradise as well as five co-productions with Flanders also made it into the final selection. Finally there’s also the omni-presence of Flemish heartthrob Matthias Schoenaerts.

Toronto International Film Fest (TIFF)The Ardennes (D’Ardennen) is Robin Pront’s feature debut, starring Jeroen Perceval (Borgman, Bullhead), Kevin Janssens (Storm Force) and Veerle Baetens (The Broken Circle Breakdown). It’s the story of two brothers. When a brutal robbery goes hopelessly wrong, Dave manages to run off leaving his brother Kenneth behind. Four years later, his brother is released from prison and much has changed. Dave has his life back on track and is trying to help Kenneth wherever possible, but is witnessing how his highly-strung brother tries to win back his ex-girlfriend Sylvie. After Toronto the film is also set to open the Film Fest Ghent in October.

Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah present their second feature Black in Toronto’s ‚Discovery’ programme. Based on Dirk Bracke’s novels ‘Black’ en ‘Back’, it’s the story of 15-year-old Mavela, a member of the notorious gang Black Bronx. She falls head over heels in love with the charismatic Marwan, a boy from the rival gang 1080’ers. The two young people are brutally forced to choose between loyalty to their gang or their love for each other. An impossible choice… or not?

Laura Vandewynckel’s stop-motion animated short Paradise, which premiered as part of Cannes’s Cinéfondation programme earlier on this year, is selected for the Festival’s ‘Short Cuts’ section. It’s the story of people heading for a better place on either side of the ocean. Although at times their paths do cross, they never really seem to meet. Paradise also won the filmmaker a VAF Wildcard.

Five co-productions with Flanders that will be shown at this year’s 40th edition of the Toronto International Film Festival are Jean-Loup Felicioli and Alain Gagnol’s (A Cat in Paris) animated Phantom Boy (TIFF Kids);  Couple in a Hole by Tom Geens (City to City); Alex van Warmerdam’s Schneider Vs. Bax (Contemporary World Cinema); The White Knights by Joachim Lafosse (Platform); and Keeper by Guillaume Senez (Discovery), besides The Ardennes the second feature in Toronto to have Bart Van Langendonck of Savage Film (Bullhead, Galloping Mind) as a producer attached.

Besides these films there’s also Matthias Schoenaerts’ omni-presence in Toronto. The Festival selected two films in which the  Flemish actor plays: with Eddie Redmayne in Tom Hooper’s The Danish Girl (Special Presentations), and with Diane Kruger in Disorder (Maryland) by Alice Winocour (Gala Presentation).

Tickets for these screenings will be available from Aug. 27th for patrons of TIFF, from Sept. 1 for packages, and from Sept. 6th for individual tickets.

Celebrating Belgium’s National Holiday

On July 21st, several directors of the BCBC celebrated Belgium’s National Day in Ottawa with H.E. Raoul Delcorde, Ambassador of Belgium to Canada. We were also joined by fellow Belgian, H.E. Marie-Anne Coninsx, Ambassador of the Delegation of the European Union to Canada.

Don Johnston, Jonas De Meyer, Taïs Bangala, Oliver Heijmans, Christian Frayssignes, H.E. Raoul Delcorde, H.E. Marie-Anne Coninsx, Frank Murari, André van der Heyden, Julien Lecomte

Don Johnston, Jonas De Meyer, Taïs Bangala, Oliver Heijmans, Christian Frayssignes, H.E. Raoul Delcorde, H.E. Marie-Anne Coninsx, Frank Murari, André van der Heyden, Julien Lecomte

2015 Annual General Meeting

2015 - 2016 Board of Directors

2015 – 2016 Board of Directors

The BCBC held our 2015 Annual General Meeting last night at the law offices of Aird & Berlis, closing out a very successful 2014-2015. President & CEO Dominiek Arnout provided a brief overview of the year and thanked our sponsors for their support as we’ve continued working to promote bilateral relationships between Belgium and Canada, as well as to raise awareness of Belgium in the economic and media capital of Canada.

President & CEO Dominiek Arnout

President & CEO Dominiek Arnout

This was followed by more in-depth reports on the operations and financial position of the Chamber, as well as reviews of our membership and events. Finally, the members of the BCBC elected a new board of directors for the 2015-2016 year. Not only did the majority of directors return to the board, we’ve also added five new directors to create a very dynamic board. Pictures of the AGM are courtesy of YAOL Canada.

We look forward to an exciting new year!

200th Anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo

Waterloo - 200th Anniversary

In June 2015, be at the very heart of the grandiose reconstruction of an event which continues to speak to the collective imagination: the Battle of Waterloo! To commemorate the Bicentenary of this Battle that left Europe stunned and that was instrumental in determining the future of our regions, the ASBL ‘Bataille de Waterloo 1815’ is planning the most impressive reconstructions ever seen in Europe: 5000 re-enactors, 300 horses and 100 canons. Don’t miss this opportunity as the next edition won’t be until 2025!
Attend two exceptional re-enactments of two different phases of the Battle. These shows promise to be different, fun for all, and full of emotions – Come and participate from the very front line. You will also have the opportunity to visit the museums, take a wander through the bivouacs and discover life as it was for the troops 200 years ago.