Belgium at the gates of India
The reopening of a direct route between Brussels and Mumbai operated by Brussels Airlines is good news for tourism and promises economic opportunities for both countries. India has seen steady growth from 5.6% to 7.6% between 2012 and 20151 and is now experiencing stronger economic growth than China.
In 2012, nearly 1,300 Belgian companies were exporting to India. Belgium has gradually stepped up its exchanges thanks to the establishment of various offices of Flanders Investment & Trade, AWEX and Brussels Invest & Export. According to the AWEX, about 150 Belgian companies now have a form of physical presence in India, whether it is a production plant, a joint venture, a representative office or a sales office, for example.
For Jurgen Maerschand, Economic and Trade Attaché for Flanders Investment & Trade in Mumbai, opening a direct route to India is great news. "Investing in the Indian market can be difficult, especially for the Flemish SMEs that we support and advise. The Indian market is constantly changing and requires special monitoring. In addition, it is based on strong social ties and bonds of trust that take time to develop. Direct flights between Brussels and Mumbai offer the possibility of establishing and, above all, nurturing social and professional relations with the Indian business community," he reports.
"Thanks to its central location, Belgium and Brussels Airport provide fast access to other countries of the European continent, which is an important added value for Indian investors. Indian companies can thus establish their European headquarters in Belgium and quickly join their subsidiary across Europe via Brussels Airport," continues Jurgen Maerschand.
Christophe Van Overstraeten, Economic and Trade Attaché for the AWEX in New Delhi, agrees. "India is a country that attracts our businesses, but there are also many uncertainties. Informing and reassuring our companies is part of our day-to-day efforts, as is making it easier for them to prospect in India. The direct route to Mumbai opened by Brussels Airlines paves the way for our efforts. This direct route is absolutely essential for the continued development of business relations between India and Belgium," he explains.
The route to the third largest intercontinental destination from Belgium will have a direct impact at Brussels Airport. With no fewer than 100,000 passengers2, Brussels - Mumbai will create almost a hundred jobs in Brussels Airport3. The tourism sector in the region and the whole of Belgium will also benefit, as the number of Indian tourists is expected to double from 20154.
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