I know we all wanted to read Guillaume interview, so here we go
Interview with H.R.H. Crown Prince Guillaume, Honorary President of the Luxembourg Board of Economic Development
The US Remains the Most Important Trading Partner
The H.R.H. Crown Prince has been traveling regularly to the US since his childhood. He particularly admires the American people for their spontaneity, openness, and straightforward demeanor.
Your Royal Highness, 65 years after the end of World War II, a major worldwide change has taken place from an economic perspective, which is giving rise to new trends. What is the significance of this radically altered global environment for Luxembourg-American economic relations?
The US remains Luxembourg’s most important trading partner outside of the European Union. Now as before, most direct investment in Luxembourg comes from the US, which in turn is also the preferred destination for direct investments from Luxembourgian companies. What is increasingly connecting our two countries is our shared economic challenge of asserting ourselves in the global economy with creative and innovative ideas and concepts. Moreover, numerous US companies have long recognized that Luxembourg is a superb gateway to the internal EU market.
What active role does the Board of Economic Development, which you head, play in furthering economic ties between the US and Luxembourg?
The BED is a committee where actors from the public and private sector discuss their shared concerns regarding economic development. The executive secretary of the BED and the nine Luxembourg Trade and Investment Offices are under the Ministry of Economic Affairs. For the meantime, only the brand ‘Luxembourg for Business’ will be used, in the interests of a unified presence in the outside world. We have two Trade and Investment Offices in the US: one in New York and one in San Francisco. These offices actively seek out local companies with an interest in European markets, in order to highlight Luxembourg’ benefits. In addition to this, they also help Luxembourgian companies get a foothold in the US.
What arguments do you use to try to convince investors to choose Luxemburg when you are on promotional trips in the US?
In Luxembourg today, we can hardly solicit for aid anymore. The arguments have become much more nuanced and are often based on so-called ‘soft’ criteria. The Grand Duchy mostly wins people over with its geographic location and its multilingualism. Naturally, our infrastructure and our legal system are also major factors in our success. Aside from those, our high standard of living is important, to attract managers and their families, and their companies along with them, which build new workplaces. However, it is also true that it takes a great deal of effort to convince a company’s directors to settle in Luxembourg.
In the past, it was mainly American industrialists and investors who came to Luxembourg, so there has been an accelerated shift to other sectors recently. In which areas, generally speaking, is further expansion and cooperation possible?
It is getting noticeably more difficult to attract industrial companies to Luxembourg or Western Europe. We also need to focus on sectors with high added value, for which the EU remains attractive. Luxembourg has very strong arguments in its favor for some promising sectors. In the ICT and e-commerce sectors, some large US companies, as well as some smaller ones, have established themselves in our country. We enjoy close collaborations between American and Luxembourgian scientists in the field of medical technology. This kind of collaborative relationship seems entirely plausible in the area of environmental technology as well. We should bear in mind however, that companies from these sectors do not create hundreds of new workplaces overnight. In any case, we need to get closer “to the client”.
What are your personal ties to the United States, and what impresses you the most when you travel there?
I have been traveling to the States in a personal context since I was a child, especially since I had family living and studying there. I feel very much at ease in the US: privately, but also in touch with the business community. I particularly admire the American people for their spontaneity, openness, and straightforward demeanor. Their often quite distinctive spirit of entrepreneurship is certainly the source of their innovative power.
In your view what is the significance of the Luxembourg American Business Award, which you will present in New York on October 20th?
Getting new companies to settle in Luxembourg is absolutely vital. Nevertheless, we should not lose sight of the fact that the companies that are already established here are playing a supporting role in Luxembourg’s economic development. The Business Award bestows a distinction upon a North American company that has played an important role in Luxembourg in the past, and which will assuredly continue to do so in the future. The ceremony serves to reinforce the amicable ties between Luxembourg and the upper management of key US companies. In this way, the Grand Duchy can make itself a personal reference point on the world map for American companies.
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