Since the beginning of the crisis, AmCham Belgium has been working hard to find new ways to engage and provide value to our member community. In these uncertain times, the connection between business leaders and policymakers is more relevant than ever. To this end, AmCham Belgium launched a new series of online events with high-level political representatives, “AmCham Belgium meets …”.
On June 4, 2020, President of N-VA and Mayor of Antwerp, Bart De Wever, addressed AmCham Belgium members during the first edition of “AmCham Belgium meets…”. More than 80 members joined the event during which Mr. De Wever shared his vision for relaunching the Belgian economy after the COVID-19 crisis and candidly addressed questions from the audience.
In a discussion moderated by Joost Van Roost and Joris Bulteel, respectively Chair and Vice-Chair of AmCham Belgium’s Antwerp Chapter, Mr. De Wever shared his thoughts and concerns about the Belgian economic recovery after the corona crisis and the future development of Antwerp.
To start with, the Mayor of Antwerp explained that, in terms of numbers, the Port of Antwerp – connected to all parts of the world – reflects how the global economy performs. Even though the effects of the crisis have not yet been felt, global trade is shrinking, and the consequences will not be long in coming. It is difficult to predict how long this crisis will last and how the world will look going forward. For Mr. De Wever, this is an important time to be in politics, because the choices we make today will significantly impact the next decades. Many agree that the world will be totally different after corona, but Mr. De Wever does not fully subscribe to this statement:
The new world looks more like the old world than you might think today. It will be another world, but it will not be totally different, and we should not turn our backs to the future (…) If we want to offer a prosperous future to ourselves, our children and grandchildren, we should restore positive thinking and the confidence that we can proceed towards a better world.
The COVID-19 crisis is also having an impact on public spending and budgets. That’s why it will be difficult to make the right choices in terms of public investments and define what the priorities are. The key is to invest in projects that enhance productivity and efficiency in the short term and avoid wasteful spending which will have negative effects in the long term, Mr. De Wever believes. In this regard, he referred to the Oosterweel project, characterizing it as a good example of a worthwhile investment post-corona given its potential to strengthen the position of the Antwerp region internationally.
Bart De Wever continued by emphasizing the importance of innovation in making Antwerp more attractive to foreign investors. While, in the past, Antwerp had been known as a traditional city, the Mayor’s priority has been to reshape it and have it recognized as a driver for innovation.
AmCham Belgium thanks Mr. De Wever for the open discussion with our members in our first “AmCham Belgium meets …” online event. Together with our community, we look forward to honoring Mr. De Wever’s invitation to meet in person, as soon as this is possible again, in the newly renovated City Hall of Antwerp.
Are you eager to “e-meet” another political leader? Stay tuned for the announcement of our next “AmCham Belgium meets …” event!
About the author
Tiziana offers support in the organization and promotion of AmCham Belgium’s events. Recently graduated in International Relations from ULB, she joined the Chamber in March 2020.