Christian Frayssignes, Vice-President, Belgian Canadian Business Chamber set the overall tone for the Business with Belgium seminar by reminding attendees that as a small, stable and geographically strategic marketplace, Belgium is an ideal entry point for Canadian exporters to expand into the European Union.
In her brief comments on how the EU functions, Nadiya Nychay, Partner, Dentons Europe LLP, explained that the European Union consists of 28 member countries, 19 of which share a common currency, the Euro and is home to 500 million consumers. Unlike NAFTA, the EU is a customs union with an integrated system of trade and business regulations. However, individual member states still have their own legislation regarding areas over which they hold domestic competency.
Regarding the topic of choosing a strategy for expanding into Europe, Xavier Van Overmeire, Regional Head of the International Trade Group, Dentons Canada LLP suggested three basic approaches — direct representation through distributors or agents, licensing technology or formal partnerships. Each brings with it various legal challenges, which can be further complicated by the European civil law regime, similar to the one used in Quebec. It is different from the English common-law tradition found in the rest of Canada. Continue reading