Flanders wants to strengthen economic ties with Ireland
Minister-President Jambon is on a two-day visit to the Irish capital. With that visit, the Minister-President wants to strengthen the economic ties between Flanders and Ireland. Since Brexit, Flemish exports to the country have increased exponentially. But according to Jambon there is still more potential.
In 2021, Flanders exported EUR 3.11 billion to Ireland. That was 28.23% more than in 2020. Imports from Ireland in the same year amounted to 18.65 billion euros.
"With trade between Flanders and Ireland accounting for more than 20 billion euros in 2021, it is clear that our economies have much to offer each other," Jambon said in a speech to Flemings in Ireland on Monday evening. "Both Flanders and Ireland have suffered the consequences of the United Kingdom's departure from the European Union, but that change has also brought us closer together," Jambon said.
According to the Prime Minister, this has meant that Flanders is more than ever in the spotlight for Irish companies looking to expand and who, because of Flanders' geographical location with important sea ports, "want to use the region as an international trading hub and gateway to continental Europe".
The figures prove it. The number of direct maritime connections between Flanders and Ireland strongly increased after the brexit. Especially the Port of Antwerp-Bruges saw a strong increase in maritime traffic to Ireland. Many shippers opt for a slightly longer journey time instead of facing the customs and other controls on the land route via the UK. The consolidated maritime traffic for Antwerp and Bruges increased from approximately 3.5 to 5.5 million tonnes.
But although there are strong links, there is still a lot more potential, Jambon said. "And we want to grab that with both hands." The Flemish prime minister had a meeting with the Irish deputy prime minister and minister for business, trade and employment Leo Varadkar on Monday and will visit the port of Dublin on Tuesday. Later in the day, a seminar on offshore wind energy is also on the agenda and the Prime Minister will visit the startup Hub Dogpatch Labs.
This visit is part of the Flemish intention, included in the government agreement, to intensify its relations with the countries of the North, including the Netherlands, Germany, the Baltic States, the Scandinavian countries and Ireland. Jambon's visit will also be placed under the sign of culture, academic collaboration and tourism.
Jan Jambon und 'Taoiseach' Leo Varadkar ©BELGA PHOTO JAMES ARTHUR GEKIERE