Chamber aims to foster Belgian tech hub in S.C.

While almost all of South Carolina's trading partners saw a dip in S.C. exports in 2020, those containers headed to Belgium the fifth largest export partner based on value were still going strong.

The European nation received about $1.4 billion in goods from the Palmetto State in 2020, according to data from the U.S. International Trade Database. A few years ago, Belgium surpassed the United Kingdom as an S.C. import partner and trails only Germany, Canada, China and Mexico.

And now, Yves Ghys, the newly appointed Belgian Chamber ambassador to the Southeast and head of Greenville's Pozyx, says the pandemic has brought even more active interest from Belgian companies looking to do business in the state.

Ghys said he and the chamber team have already launched negotiations with several Belgian companies planning to announce a new presence this year.

These new arrivals will join some of the largest employers in the region that happen to be Belgian-owned: AGFA Healthcare Corp., Solvay Carbon Fibers and Composite Materials and TVH Parts Co., according to Commerce Department data.

"We are trying to build a solid base for a Greenville technology hub," Ghys said. "And even more, a Belgian technology hub. We are currently talking at all levels, including the Pozyx board members and investors, since they have stakes and investments in several Belgian companies that are planning to come to the U.S. in the near future."

Ghys, whose global positioning company moved to the Upstate to be near its partner company, Gemba Systems, sees added value in having companies with the same investors close by.

"Think about it, with the creation of such a technology hub, specific functions like HR or finance could even be shared," he said.

But right now, especially as Belgian companies are seeking out U.S. homes beyond the...

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