(Toespraak alleen in het Engels beschikbaar)
Mr Chief Executive,
Ladies & Gentlemen,
It is always a pleasure to come back here. Hong Kong is such a vibrant and inspiring place.
First of all I want to thank the authorities for their warm hospitality.
This is my third visit to Hong Kong and each time I have been deeply impressed by what this city has to offer.
I thank Chairman Victor Lo for his kind invitation and for giving me the opportunity to speak at this great opening session of the Business of Design Week 2013.
Since its creation in 2002, BoDW has become Asia's leading annual design, innovation and branding event. It has attracted hundreds of thousands of visitors from all over the globe. Its already outstanding reputation is growing worldwide.
So my country is very honoured and proud to be the "Partner Country for 2013".
Strategically located in the heart of Europe, Belgium is at the crossroads of several cultures. This means it is exposed to a wonderful melting pot of external influences. Add to that a design-friendly environment; plus a vibrant and sophisticated approach to design and innovation. The result is fertile ground for creativity. And, indeed, the creative industries form an increasingly important part of the Belgian economy.
Belgian design - our architecture and fashion industry - is already well known worldwide. But Belgium has so much more to offer which is not so widely known. You can discover it here.
The BoDW forum is an excellent opportunity for my country to share its vision on fashion, product design and architecture. The three regions in Belgium - Flanders, Brussels and Wallonia - have worked together to present their most prestigious creations. Over 50 Belgian speakers will explain their concept of design. 20 Belgian companies are exhibiting their design products in the Inspiration Hall. Design academics, teachers and students are also present here in Hong Kong to exchange ideas and knowhow with their Hong Kong counterparts and explore possible cooperation in the future. I very much appreciate the commitment and involvement of young designers.
Belgium's participation in BoDW is a joint initiative under the inspiring banner of "Belgian Spirit". It is designed to promote Belgian design in Hong Kong and throughout Asia. A whole range of fascinating side-events will take place in Hong Kong in the coming days.
Tomorrow, I will visit the exhibition on architecture in Shenzhen, where twenty young Belgian architectural firms have a great opportunity to show their work on "Urban Borders".
A large number of Belgian businessmen are represented at this forum, exploring new opportunities and looking for business partners.
It is my hope that this year's BoDW will be the start of long-term cooperation, and an exchange of ideas, knowledge and business interaction in the field of design, with Hong Kong and other partners.
I wish all the participants success in their endeavours.