Large Belgian Economic Mission to Texas from 3 to 11 December 2016: #BEmissionUSA

Mission to Texas

A vast Belgian economic mission presided over by HRH Princess Astrid, as representative of His Majesty King Philippe, will head for Texas from 3 to 11 December 2016.
 
240 business representatives, together with the press and the official delegation will visit the cities of Austin, Houston, San Antonio and College Station.
 
No less than five ministers will accompany the princess on her mission:

  • Mr. Didier Reynders, federal Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Affairs;
  • Mr. Geert Bourgeois, Minister-President of Flanders, and Flemish Minister for Foreign Policy and Architectural Heritage;
  • Mr. Jean-Claude Marcourt, Deputy Minister-President and Minister of Economy, Industry, Innovation and Digitalisation of the Walloon Government and Deputy Minister-President and Minister of Higher Education, Scientific Research and Media of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation;
  • Mr. Pieter De Crem, Federal Secretary of State for Foreign Trade;
  • Ms. Cecile Jodogne, Secretary of State for Foreign Trade and Investment for the Brussels-Capital Region, and Minister of the French Community Commission in charge of Civil Service and Health Policy.

The mission to Texas builds on a long tradition of Belgian trade missions to the US, and the historical relations between our country and the American state of Texas. The very first Belgian trade mission thus departed for the US in 1960, led by the then Prince Albert. Since then, the US has been an integral part of the agenda of Belgian economic missions. The last trade mission to the US dates from June 2013 (California).
 
Texas is the largest exporter to Belgium of all US states ($ 4.6 billion in 2015). Belgium is the 10th export destination for Texas, and the second in Europe after the Netherlands. Chemicals represent 58 % of the exports, petroleum and coal products 8%, and computer and electronic equipment 6 %. The remaining 17% concern various finished products. Belgium was the 25th import destination for Texas in 2015. In 2014 Texas imported for $ 1.6 billion from BE and thus had a trade surplus of about $ 3 billion towards Belgium, a continuation of the trend of recent years.
 
A total of 98 Belgian companies registered to the economic mission. They will participate in several sectorial conferences, seminars, official meetings, networking opportunities and cultural events that the five main organisers have lined up for them. The economic mission focuses on some sectors where Belgian companies can provide world-class expertise. The logistics sector holds a prominent place on the agenda, as well as medical technology, biopharma, petrochemicals and tourism, which are featured extensively in a very diverse programme that came about in close cooperation between the three regional export agencies (FIT, AWEX and BI&E), the Agency for Foreign Trade and the Federal Public Service Foreign Affairs.
 
Attracting US investment in Belgium is one of the main objectives of the mission. More than 40 companies from Texas already have branches in Belgium. Among the best known are the oil companies, Exxon, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, the IT companies Dell and Texas Instruments, Kimberly-Clark, and Lennox (heating and air conditioning). The Belgian investors in Texas include Katoen Natie, Lhoist, Solvay, Barco and Exmar among others.
 
The economic mission starts in Austin, the capital of Texas. The city presents itself as a start-up hub and a creative growth pole. The trade delegation will visit the headquarters of IT giant Dell EMC. Barco will then be put in the spotlight to praise the partnership with Cinemark, one of the largest cinema chains in the US.
 
After a brief side step via San Antonio, with the legendary Alamo, the mission will pass by College Station, home to the largest university in Texas, Texas A & M University. Texas A & M University has been one of the technology partners of AWEX for ten years, collaborating on commercialisation of technology. The visit is also an adequate opportunity to pay tribute to the Texas A & M alumni who fought during the Battle of the Bulge.
 
The port city of Houston is the last stop for the trade mission. The ties between the ports of Houston and Antwerp are very close. The two largest petrochemical clusters in the world join forces to highlight this cooperation at a breakfast seminar. The mission will end with visits to the Lyndon Johnson Space Center and the local branches of Katoen Natie and Solvay.
 
More information on the Belgian economic mission can be found on www.belgianeconomicmission.be or on Twitter with the hashtag #BEmissionUSA.