During the London Olympics as part of the Belgium House, Awex – the Wallonia Foreign Trade and Investment Agency organised a seminar to sell Wallonia to foreign investors. There were approximately twenty companies among the participants.
“This kind of seminar serves to create links between the companies already established in Wallonia that have seen us and potential candidates who have shown a real interest,” said Alphi Cartuyvels, director of European investment into Awex.
Among the ranks of confirmed investors, Johnson & Johnson, is already established in Courcelles, and whose new European distribution centre for pharmaceuticals will be inaugurated in La Louviere on October 3. This investment of €49 million will create 110 jobs.
What makes Wallonia so attractive? “Its central location, its ease of access, the quality of its workforce and its regional and European financial aid” notes Zeger Vercouteren, Director of Worldwide Government Affairs & Policy of Johnson & Johnson.
The aid also helped convince an Irish company, Xtratherm, that specialises in insulation to build a production plant in Feluy. This investment of €25 million will generate close to a hundred jobs.
A Chinese delegation was also invited which included the head of the Whibi group. In the spring, he signed an occupancy agreement for an 8.5 hectare plot in Louvain-la-Neuve on which to install a technology incubator. He was accompanied by two partners with whom he will fund this 100 million euro project: Hua Yong, a group that has two private banks, 11 luxury hotels and mining concerns; and the Dong Feng Design Institute, a subsidiary of the second largest Chinese automobile manufacturer.
Delivering a foreign investment in Wallonia is a lengthy process. “To attract the H & M logistics centre to Wallonia, it took six years from the first contact and the inauguration of the building,” says Alphi Catuyvels. It hopes to achieve two new investments in the next six months.
Awex, thus, should not have to wait until the Olympics Games to Rio to win its next medals.
TRENDS – 16/08/2012