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Belgium public debt tops 100% of GDP, more tax rates on wealthy to boost competitiveness

BRUSSELS: The OECD economic survey of Belgium 2015 noted that public debt now topped 100% of gross domestic product, adding that public finances would become unsustainable without further fiscal consolidation. Belgium has been advised to constrain public spending and raise tax rates on the wealthy to boost employment and competitiveness, following a return to economic growth. In a report today, ... Read More »

HSBC chief executive Stuart Gulliver receives £7.6m in pay, bonuses in 2014

BRUSSELS: HSBC chief executive Stuart Gulliver received £7.6m in pay and bonuses last year, as the bank issued a fresh apology for the “unacceptable” tax avoidance activities at its Swiss unit. Gulliver was drawn in to the tax scandal after leaked files from HSBC’s Swiss banking arm showed he had an account there until 2003 and sheltered millions of pounds ... Read More »

HSBC posts 17% drop in profit to $18.7 billion in 2014

BRUSSELS: HSBC has said that 2014 was a “challenging year” after reporting a 17% drop in profit to $18.7bn (£12.2bn). The bank blamed the negative effect of fines and settlements and UK customer redress for the sharp drop.The results follow allegations, which emerged earlier this month, that HSBC had helped people evade UK tax using hidden HSBC accounts in Geneva. ... Read More »

Belgium companies to pay tax in profit-earning countries

BRUSSELS: Belgium Commission will ensure companies pay their tax where they make their profits. This move would have far-reaching consequences for Irish corporate tax revenue. Some new pieces of legislation will be presented over the next few months, but one of the biggest could be the revival of the common consolidated corporate tax base. By the end of June, the ... Read More »

Eurozone business activity at 7-month high: Purchasing managers’ index for February hits 53.5

BRUSSELS: Eurozone business activity has reached a seven-month high, prompting companies to take on more staff, a closely watched survey indicates. Markit’s composite flash purchasing managers’ index for February hit 53.5, up from 52.6 in January. Any figure over 50 indicates expansion, while anything under 50 points to a contraction. Firms are hiring staff at the fastest rate since August ... Read More »

HSBC helps around 6,000 rich French lawyers, clients dodge €5.8b taxes

PARIS: HSBC helped around 6,000 rich French lawyers, artists, businessmen and even a World Cup winner dodge taxes, new explosive reports claim. HSBC’s private bank has already been charged in France in connection to a major tax fraud probe. French newspaper Le Monde revealed on Monday “breathtaking” figures of giant global tax evasion scheme involving up to €180 billion deposited ... Read More »

Belgium broadcast equipment maker EVS predicts slowdown of its business in 2015

BRUSSELS: Belgium broadcast-equipment maker EVS predicted dull activity in its business in 2015 due to less sporting events and clients postponing investments in live production equipment. As an odd year, 2015 has fewer of the large sporting events such as the Olympic Games and soccer championships to drive EVS’s sales. The group said its order book in February was some 40 percent ... Read More »

ECB appoints Luc Coene for planning, carrying out banking supervision tasks

BRUSSELS: The European Central Bank has appointed Luc Coene as ECB representative to the Supervisory Board of the Single Supervisory Mechanism. The Supervisory Board is responsible for planning and carrying out the ECB’s banking supervision tasks and proposing complete draft decisions for adoption by the Governing Council. Coene will take up his new position on March 11, a day after ... Read More »

EU to amend laws to halt tax evasion by multinational companies in Luxembourg, Ireland, Netherlands

AMSTERDAM: The European Union has come up with a plan to eradicate tax evasion by investigating existing rules that allow multinationals to cut their bills in Luxembourg, Ireland and the Netherlands. The EU’s executive commission said Wednesday that it will propose new tax legislation next month, including on the automatic exchange of information about tax rulings. Commission Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis said ... Read More »

$359 billion plan: EU to start lending funds for small & medium firms in May

BRUSSELS: The European Union aims to start lending funds to small and medium-sized companies as soon as May under a 315-billion-euro ($359 billion) investment plan meant to kick-start economic growth. The European Investment Bank gave the green light Tuesday to provide early financing for projects developed by companies with fewer than 3,000 employees. European Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis said ... Read More »

4Q revenue slips 1.6%: Paris-based Orange predicts fall in earnings by 3.6% in Belgium

BRUSSELS: Orange SA, the French telecommunications carrier with networks from Belgium to Botswana, forecast a key measure of profit will fall further this year as it has yet to stem a decline in sales after a three-year price war. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation will be in a range of 11.9 billion euros to 12.1 billion euros, a ... Read More »

Fish exports fall to $277.9m from $197.5m in 2014

BRUSSELS: Fish exports fell in value in December 2014 from December 2013 by 29%, according to the Ministry of Production. In Dec. 2013, fish exports from Peru valued at US$ 277.9 million fell down to a total value in Dec. 2014 at US$ 197.5 million. This means, not just in value but in volume, Peruvian fish exports decreased. PRODUCE recorded ... Read More »

4.3% growth: Belgium Port of Antwerp handles 199 million tonnes of freight in 2014

BRUSSELS: The Port of Antwerp handled 199m tonnes of freight in 2014, a 4.3% increase over 2013. The increase was driven by a 5.9% growth in container volumes and a 5.6% improvement in liquid bulk, despite a 2.0% decrease in conventional breakbulk and 6.1% decrease in dry bulk. The 5.9% increase in containers to 108.3m tonnes amounted to a 4.7% ... Read More »

Belgium Port of Antwerp opens training centre in Mumbai

BRUSSELS: Port of Antwerp in Belgium, the second largest port in Europe, is rolling out a training centre in Mumbai to offer training for port professionals in India. Temporary facilities are being used at the moment, until the new centre is ready, the company said in its press release. Antwerp has also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the ... Read More »

Investors offered tax exemption based on qualifying audiovisual expenditure in Belgium

BRUSSELS: There has been a shake up to the Belgian tax shelter one intended to squeeze out the “middlemen” perceived to have abused the system. The new rules were introduced at the beginning of the year. Under the revised system, producers are now required to apply for a government license. It is not a heavy procedure but the purpose of ... Read More »

Eurozone economy grows by 0.3% in 4th quarter, 0.9% in 2014

BRUSSELS: The official Eurostat agency said eurozone economy expanded by 0.3 per cent in the fourth quarter and 0.9 per cent for all of 2014, slightly better than expected but too weak to convincingly signal a full-blown recovery. Economic activity in the eurozone picked up slightly in fourth quarter, official EU data showed in a sign that the benefits of ... Read More »

Belgium polished diamond exports increase 2.5% YOY to $1.086b in 2014

BRUSSELS: Belgium’s polished diamond exports increased 2.5 percent year on year to $1.086 billion in December, according to data provided by the Antwerp World Diamond Center. By volume, exports dropped 8.3 percent to 512,830 carats. Polished imports rose 6.2 percent to $922.7 million, leaving net exports 14.3 percent lower at $163.3 million. Rough diamond imports fell 4.8 percent to $1.032 ... Read More »

Belgium gives $15b to fund exports of coal-fired power plant, coal mining technology

BRUSSELS: Belgium provided nearly $15 billion over a decade from 2003 to 2013 to fund exports of coal-fired power plant and coal mining technology, data seen by Reuters shows, defying calls to end subsidies for the most polluting of the fossil fuels. A document prepared late last year by the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), marked confidential, ... Read More »

Europe’s 2nd largest port of Antwerp in Belgium eyes Indian investment

BRUSSELS: Port authorities of Antwerp in Belgium, the second largest port in Europe, will visit India to attract investments. India generated a record five million tonnes of cargo in Antwerp in 2014, Antwerp port said in a statement. The port of Antwerp has long been convinced of the economic growth potential of India,” it said. Already in 2006, the Port authority ... Read More »

Taiwan authorities sentence death penalty to Belgian in 1.3kg heroin smuggling

TAIPEI: A Belgian man convicted of smuggling drugs into Taiwan was sentenced by the Taipei District Court to life imprisonment. Gunther van Eester was found guilty of entering Taiwan in November with 1.3 kilograms of heroin hidden in a compartment in his suitcase. The Belgian, who was jobless and homeless in Thailand, had been flagged by Taiwanese investigators after he ... Read More »