Monday 16 of April 2018, FLINN held its first “Let’s Have a Coffee With…event”, hosting the Honourable Peter De Crem, Belgian Secretary of State for Foreign Trade.

After a brief introduction by Benoit Simpelaere, Mr. De Crem discussed trade and international trade in general, pointing out the major trends with respect to trade liberalisation and globalisation, locating Belgian and EU industry within these trends and their environment. He succinctly reported on the economic and trade activities during the recent Royal Mission to Canada and explained the expected fallout as well as its horizon.

Mr. De Crem went on to speak about CETA and its effects on Belgium and more generally on the EU as a united trading block, peppering the conversation with a few comments on current trade and other political issues.

In an answer to a question on what Belgian businesses should do while they await the implementation of the single point of access by Canada for government procurement offers, which may take up to 5 years, Mr. De Crem responded that Belgian entrepreneurs, whichever size they are, should just reach out, discover and get involved in this new market.

Richard LaRue, head of the Canadian – Québec Desk at FLINN, mentioned the important CETA rules which facilitate the temporary entry of business persons willing to invest or do business in Canada. He also discussed that although much negative publicity surrounded the period between the signature of CETA and its provisional application, it is important to consider its positive and forward-thinking aspects, in what is considered a next-generation FTA, an agreement that allows for more than only pure trade and trade-related issues, opening the door to societal, environmental, investment, intellectual property issues, wage and labour issues, etc.

The event was successful since Mr. De Crem approached the subject matter with his usual dexterity, relaxed but to the point, which was greatly appreciated by the attendees.

Mindful that certain attendees were concerned about the lack of promotion of CETA within the Belgian small and medium-sized business community, FLINN Canadian – Quebec Desk will liaise with the various Brussels-based Chambers of Commerce in order to promote CETA business opportunities for Belgian SMBs in concrete, practice-oriented sessions.

Watch this space for such future events as well as our other events and subscribe to our mailing list, if you have not already. Meanwhile Richard LaRue will be pleased to help you with everything Canadian and North American.


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