FCEDA hosts Belgian dignitaries for roundtable discussion aimed at advancing trade relationships

Alan Fogg, FCEDA, afogg@fceda.org, +1 703-790-0600 (o) or +1 571-213-5065 (m)

Fairfax County, Belgium see mutual ground for business expansion

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Fairfax County, Virginia – Dirk Wouters, Ambassador of Belgium to the United States, and Pieter De Crem, Belgian Secretary of State for Foreign Trade, were among those participating in a roundtable discussion, hosted by the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority (FCEDA) on May 31.

“I believe there is a strong case to be made for transatlantic relations,” said De Crem, who invited FCEDA representatives to Belgium to “measure the temperature of our business climate” and university culture.

Dr. Gerald L. Gordon, president and CEO of the FCEDA, wouldn’t rule it out and suggested the time was ideal for Belgian companies to consider expansion.

“When you have the (trade) minister and ambassador in the same place in our county, that’s an event that we can use to build some momentum,” Gordon said. “Our economies and highly skilled workforces are comparable and we have a strong history of collaboration. We should work together to ensure that we have companies and trade going in both directions.”

Belgian firms are already active in military weaponry and communications engineering in Fairfax County.

Wouters noted that industries from beer production to cybersecurity could find “matching possibilities” for expansion on either side of the Atlantic.  “We know that Fairfax County has major companies in Belgium and that important companies from Belgium are active in Fairfax County,” he said.

De Crem discussed some of the current global challenges facing European nations but also stressed the longstanding history of cooperation and importance of the U.S. as Belgium’s leading trade partner outside of the European Union. He noted that the European Union and U.S. exchange $1.1 trillion in goods and services each year.

“The fates of the United States and Europe have never been more intertwined [although] we seem to be navigating through some troubled water,” De Crem said. “I continue to believe that linking more strongly the biggest economy in the world – the United States – with the biggest consumer market in the world – the European Union – makes perfect sense. And Belgium can, and wants to, play an important role.”

Following their session at the FCEDA, Belgian officials were slated to meet with U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross.

Time magazine called Fairfax County “one of the great economic success stories of our time.” Business growth and innovation helps Fairfax County fund the nation’s top-rated school system and other public services that contribute to the quality of life of residents. Fairfax County offers businesses a state-of-the-art telecommunications infrastructure, access to global markets through Washington Dulles International Airport, a vibrant investment capital community and a highly skilled, well-educated workforce.

The award-winning Fairfax County Economic Development Authority promotes Fairfax County as a business and technology center. The FCEDA offers site location and business development assistance, and connections with county and state government agencies, to help companies locate and expand in Fairfax County. In addition to its headquarters in Tysons Corner, Fairfax County’s largest business district, the FCEDA maintains marketing offices in six important global business centers: Bangalore, Berlin, London, Los Angeles, Seoul and Tel Aviv. Follow the FCEDA on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.