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Closer China-Belgium ties start with trade and investment

Reporter: Mariam Zaidi 丨 CCTV.com

11-01-2016 12:52 BJT

Chinese and Belgian leaders have reached a consensus to deepen trade and investment ties. So what does a nation of 1.3 billion people want from a nation whose population is barely over 11 million?

It’s a matter of mutual benefit. Belgian and Chinese leaders have both said the two countries have much to gain in developing closer ties—starting with trade.

The EU is China’s biggest trading partner and Belgium is one of the gateways to Europe. Brussels is the unofficial capital of the European Union. Decisions made here affect the EU’s 500 million consumers.

Estimates suggest that the EU and China already do over a billion dollars in trade every day.

Belgium’s prime minister wants to attract more Chinese investment to his country. In 2015 bilateral trade between China and Belgium exceeded 23 billion dollars. Chinese direct investment in Belgium topped three billion by the end of last year.

Belgium also wants Chinese companies to establish their European headquarters in Belgium, and is looking to deepen commercial ties in areas such as investment, innovation, aerospace and the digital economy.

To promote closer ties, Belgian officials have said they hope to join the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank—a China-led alternative to the World Bank and IMF.

A sentiment China already supports.

Belgium was one of two EU nations that didn’t apply by the March 2016 deadline to become one of the bank’s founding members. That drew sharp criticism from some Belgian officials, including a former prime minister.

The only other EU nation that didn’t apply for AIIB membership was Ireland.

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