Overview of Belgium

Belgium is located upon northwest Europe from which is bounded on the north by the Netherlands and the North Sea, on the east by Germany and Luxembourg, and on the south and southwest by France.1 Due to this location, Belgium is also known as the Crossroads of Europe because it promotes trade and prosperity.2 Following the end of WWII, (NATO) in April 1949 to provide safeguards against possible Communist aggression and, Belgium joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization like the efforts of other democratic countries, to accomplish economic recovery.1 U.S.-Belgian relations are excellent. Belgium is a close ally and works with the U.S. on many international issues. Belgian governments have been committed to the development of a strong, federal European Union with the ability to set common foreign and security policies as well as common economic policies.3 The Belgium government have also been proponents of strong transatlantic ties within NATO. The current Dehaene government has repeated its desire for close ties with the United States on security issues and has expressed support for enlarging NATO to accommodate certain former Warsaw Pact nations.3 Belgium is a substantial aid donor, making bilateral and multilateral contributions to humanitarian aid and development programs.3 Belgium is a provider of peacekeeping troops and has participated in various peacekeeping operations in Somalia, Rwanda and former Yugoslavia.3 The United States and Belgium are indeed allies. Belgium joined the UN as a charter member on June 26, 1945, the country gave consistent support to the other Western democracies during the intense ideological and political struggle (the so-called cold war) with the USSR and the states within the Soviet sphere of influence.1 The United States and Belgium both share a promising and extensive economic relationship with each other. Under the evolving federal system, the primary areas of interest to U.S. business include foreign trade, environment and investment regimes and incentives.3 Belgium and the United States have strong reciprocal trade relations. Belgium is a major market for American exports in 1995. Since the end of World War 2, American businesses have played an active and important part in the Belgian economy.4 One example of US and Belgium economic relationship include the Telecommunications Services (TES). The partial privatization of BELGACOM and Ameritechs involvement in the company have met the greatest growth potential in mobile telephone services.5 Also, many other U.S. companies are already active in the value-added network services market in Belgium. Another example is Computer Software (Csf) industry. The Belgian software market follows the U.S. market very closely. New product announcements by leading suppliers in the U.S. are introduced in Belgium with only a few months delay.5 Windows-based programs and applications, as well as Macintosh-based applications, are expected to continue to sell very well. The Computer And Peripherals (Cpt) industry is another strong example of US-Belgium economic relations. Market leaders in Belgium include Compaq with 12.7 percent market share, followed by IBM (8.5 percent), and by Apple(6.5 percent), Vobis (4.7 percent), and HP (4.6 percent).5 One other example is the Laboratory Scientific Instruments (Lab) industry. The U.S. industry is Belgiums leading supplier of modern laboratory equipment. The most promising sub-sectors are instruments and apparatus for physical or chemical analysis such as polarimeters, refractometer, and spectrometers.5 The most important issues that the US is confronted with include several trade barriers.6 Ecotaxes and environmental regulation is a good example of an important issue between the U.S. and Belgium. These taxes will possibly raise costs for U.S. exporters, as U.S. companies selling into Belgian market adapt to the phased in implementation of these taxes. Environmental regulations in general are further complicated by the fact that various central government powers over the environment are being devolved to see inconsistent enforcement of environment regulations among the regions, which may lead to a less favorable trading climate for U.S. business in some parts of the country.6 The cattle growth hormone ban is another example. The EU bans imports of U.S. hormone-treated beef and all high-value products containing hormone-treated meat. This has led to the loss of U.S. agricultural sales in member states of the EU, including Belgium.6 A third issue includes customs valuation. The proposal under discussion would require that the customs value be based on the final sale price only. If adopted, many U.S. multinationals exporting to the EU through a chain of sales would find that EU customs officials assign their products a higher customs value, and thus levy higher tariffs, than is now the case.6
1 Belgium. Funk & Wagnalls New Encyclopedia. Vol. 3. Pg. 398-409.

2 Johnstone, Patrick. The Unreached Peoples Prayer-Belgium”
3Political Environment. Www.businesseurope.com.

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4Executive Summary. Www.businesseurope.com.

5Leading Sectors for US Exports and Investments.
6Trade Regulations and Standards. Www.businesseurope.com.

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