Q: In which sectors are you hoping to see foreign investment this year?
A: Antwerp is a model, not only for shopping and activities with regard to fashion. The Academy for Fashion in Antwerp is ranked third in the world. We have students from all over the world. We are the number one retail destination in Belgium.
But Antwerp is a fast-growing city. We have a number of trump card sectors. We are number one in Europe for the integrated oil and chemical cluster. Antwerp is the largest European port for conventional cargo and the second largest European container port offering the widest range of logistics services, compared with other European ports. It employs 160,000 people.
We are the diamond centre of the world, and the industry employees 35,000. Amsterdam likes to claim that title, which is absolutely ridiculous. It’s like you would have a team in fourth division claiming to be the best football team in the premier league. Antwerp is the heart of the diamond world; we have six centuries of history in dealing and crafting diamonds. The craft has been changing enormously, and the city has changed hugely over 15 years. We have totally new neighbourhoods which are developing, which at the same time develop economically with new fields where people can invest, as well as real estate of course. We have a huge shopping district and avenue where lots of Dutch people come. We are a city with 177 nationalities.
We have received an award from fDi Magazine for our connectivity thanks to our efforts.
Q: Are there specific investment opportunities that you would like to highlight?
A: The city is investing substantially into its multi-modal transport hubs, and these are exactly the areas in which we try to cluster our new large-scale activities. So, the economic opportunities can be clustered into multi-modal hubs which the city and Flemish government invest in substantially.
I think in terms of affordable living space, we have some growth opportunities. There are various investment possibilities in every possible field you could name. Going from start-ups to big business.
We have a stable political situation. This party or that political party might come and go, but the economic situation in our country is that of a stable country. We have office space of around two million square meters. At the end, we are still a city with no more than half a million inhabitants. It’s not like we are a Chinese city of seven or eight million people.
Tourists come to Antwerp for our history of world-renowned painters. You can visit a number of museums in Antwerp, which tell the story of a city with a very rich history.