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"Set up shop in Belgium !": PM's appeal to British companies

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Belgium's prime minister on Tuesday urged British companies wanting to continue trading with the European Union to move to Belgium after the British vote to quit the bloc.

[BRUSSELS] Belgium's prime minister on Tuesday urged British companies wanting to continue trading with the European Union to move to Belgium after the British vote to quit the bloc.

"I believe that 20 per cent of the British companies are ready to move out of the country," Charles Michel told Belgian state broadcaster Radio 1.

"If they do, I would prefer if they came to Belgium, Flanders, Wallonia or Brussels and not, for example, the Netherlands," Mr Michel said.

By contrast, the president of Belgium's northern region of Flanders, which exports some 27 billion euros (S$40.52 billion) of goods per year to Britain, called for caution after the Brexit vote.

"We should not antagonise the British," said Geert Bourgeois, who has pleaded for a soft Brexit in order to limit damage to Flemish exporters.

Belgium is the eurozone's sixth-largest economy, and one of the world's most open, with Flemish exports to Britain ranging from textiles to food including fruit and chocolate. The region regularly goes on joint trade missions with the Dutch.

Mr Michel said he did not mean for his plan to be provocative.

"But I don't plan to let Belgium pay the bill for Brexit," Mr Michel said.

REUTERS

 

For more coverage of the EU referendum, visit bt.sg/BrexiT