(Texte disponible uniquemen en anglais)
Ladies and Gentlemen,
This luncheon which our Korean partners offer us so graciously, is truly a highlight of our visit here in Seoul.
May I extend my warmest thanks to the four Korean business associations who offer us this unique networking occasion.
I also thank the Belgian entrepreneurs who decided to join me on this economic mission.
Despite the huge challenges brought on by the world economic slowdown, you have made the trip to Korea because you believe, like me, in the strategic importance of stronger ties between our two countries.
Korea is indeed a key partner for Belgium. Your assets in productivity, innovation and reliability are truly impressive.
Korea is one of Asia?s most advanced economies and has become a global player with, even today, remarkable macro-economic performances.
This record is difficult to match.
The Belgian business community is therefore very keen to work closely together with you.
With your big conglomerates, the chaebols, but also with specialised Korean suppliers and, importantly, with your research institutes and your innovation clusters.
There is particular interest in ICT, in logistics and maritime technology, in green technology and energy efficiency, and of course in such key areas of excellence as the automotive industry and the consumer electronics sector.
Belgium is also very keen to show a number of assets in other key sectors.
The chemical and pharmaceutical sectors belong to Belgium?s main industrial leaders.
In biopharma, Belgian companies rank first in Europe for per capita innovation.
At the International Conference on Innovation Clusters tomorrow, we will show our strengths in nanoscience and in advanced materials research.
Our mission has another key priority: to demonstrate to our Korean friends why it is so important to invest in Belgium.
My country is a logistics hub within easy reach of industrialised Europe. Foreign firms establishing a research, administrative or financial centre in Belgium can benefit from extraordinary conditions and a truly wonderful quality of life.
And they are right at the doorstep of European decision-making.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I look forward to a very productive stay in your fascinating country.
It is my dearest wish that our visit will enable even stronger bonds of friendship and of cooperation between Korea and Belgium.