On January 26 local time, ICBC announced the establishment of Antwerp Branch in Belgium, which is the second operating institution established by ICBC in Belgium after Brussels Branch and also the first Chinese-funded commercial bank in Flanders. So far, ICBC has established branches in 19 major cities in Europe, namely Luxembourg, London, Paris, Amsterdam, Brussels, Antwerp, Milan, Rome, Madrid, Barcelona, Frankfurt, Dusseldorf, Munich, Hamburg, Berlin, Moscow, Warsaw, Lisbon and Istanbul, forming a complete business network.
Mr. Jiang Jianqing, Chairman of ICBC, said on the inaugural ceremony of Antwerp branch that as an important European port of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road and an important transfer stop of the Silk Road Economic Belt, Antwerp plays an important role in the “Road and Belt” initiative. As this year marks the 45th anniversary of China-Belgium diplomatic ties, the establishment of Antwerp Branch has significant implications reflecting ICBC’s determination to increase the investment in and strengthen the financial cooperation with Belgium and a strategic move to promote the “Road and Belt” initiative.
Since the establishment of the China-Belgium diplomatic ties in 1971, bilateral relations have made significant progress. Belgium is China’s important trade partner in EU and China is the biggest investor of Belgium in Asia. The trade volume between China and Belgium posted an annual growth of 16% in the past ten years. In June 2015, King Philippe of Belgium led a large economic and trade delegation to visit China, when President Xi Jinping met with King Philippe, expressing China’s willingness to support the railway connection between West China and Antwerp and hope that Belgium could support Chinese enterprises’ participation in the European strategic investment plan and the construction of pan-European rail network. King Philippe said that Belgium appreciates the “Belt and Road” initiative put forward by China, and as a reliable partner of China in Europe, Belgium will act as a bridge to link China and Europe by making use of its advantages.
ICBC has long been an active participant in the economic and trade activities between Belgium and China and a provider of diversified financial services. At the beginning of 2011, ICBC established the Brussels Branch in Belgium. In the past five years, Brussels Branch has delivered steady growth and business expansion with various featured business lines including shipping leasing, cross-border RMB business, on-shore guarantee for off-shore loans, and UCITS SICAV (China Opportunity RQFII Bond Fund), providing full-suite financial services for customers in China, Belgium and Europe and gaining positive brand reputation in local markets. In addition, Brussels Branch has developed in-depth financial cooperation with local enterprises and financial institutions, which has led to important and fruitful results. In June 2015, under the witness of President Xi Jinping and King Philippe, ICBC and Exmar signed the agreement of export buyer’s credit; under the witness of Premier Li Keqiang and Mr. Charles Michel, Prime Minister of Belgium, ICBC concluded the strategic cooperation memo with KBC Bank and the finance lease agreement with Seatrde Group.