On the occasion of Flanders Day, minister-president Bourgeois made a plea for free trade and the modernization of the multilateral trading system in his speech for the diplomatic corps. He also repeated his call to the British government to keep a close and broad relationship with the EU after Brexit.
"Flanders does not only believe that trade should be free, it should also be fair."
As one of the most open economies in the world, Flanders is a strong believer in free trade. But, said Minister-president Bourgeois, "we must not be naïve".
“In order to benefit everyone, free trade has to be played by the rules. The World Trade Organisation, … has enabled us to uphold the rule of law and to avoid trade conflicts… It goes without saying that the multilateral trading system is not perfect and an overhaul is undeniably needed. This implies that all partners around the table need to adopt a constructive stance. Let us modernise the World Trade Organisation together.”
Also, attention should be paid to those countries that are less well equipped to reap the benefits of world trade.
“My Government believes free trade agreements should help improve respect for human rights on the ground; supports the negotiation of ambitious sustainable development chapters in Free Trade Agreements and seeks to promote compliance with core international labour and environmental standards.”
“There is much more that unites us than divides us”
Once again Minister-President Bourgeois expressed the wish for a trade-friendly Brexit. “Flanders wants an ambitious, deep and broad Free Trade Agreement and a plus-treaty with close cooperation in as many policy areas as possible.”
He appealed to both the British government and the EU to come to a "smart Brexit deal" through mutual respect and a constructive dialogue.
Minister-president Bourgeois: “Please allow me to conclude by expressing my hope that we will overcome whatever causes turbulence between us and that we may reaffirm trust and stability between all partners. Flanders is and remains an open economy that wishes to engage constructively with all its partners. Flanders also knows from its own past that only together we can overcome great divides and international challenges.”
pdf file11 juli speech Minister-president Bourgeois NL -FR - DU - EN (368 KB)