ASTANA – BeNeLux Chamber of Commerce, uniting the trade circles of the Kingdoms of Belgium and the Netherlands and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, celebrated two years of tangible cooperation with Kazakh companies with a friendly tennis tournament on May 20 in Astana.
The chamber was established in 2021 with a mission to represent the interests of small, medium and large businesses both in Kazakhstan and in the BeNeLux countries covering all areas of business.
The tennis tournament was held to strengthen friendly relations and establish new partnerships through tennis diplomacy between the European diplomatic circles and the Kazakh business community.
Representatives of foreign diplomatic missions, local business companies, Kazakh Invest, the Astana International Financial Centre (AIFC), and Astana Hub international technopark of IT-startups took part in the tournament.
Denis Van den Weghe, chairman of the board of directors of the chamber, said BeNeLux has seen notable success over the years and it is important to underpin a prosperous and forward-looking relationship with local companies going ahead.
“Only this year we had a very successful trip with the Dutch and Belgian ambassadors to Aktobe. It was the first time we went out of the main cities to go to the regions. We had a greenhouse mission. Lots of companies from the Netherlands were there,” said Van den Weghe outlining the chamber’s role in establishing cooperation opportunities in the energy sector in the Aktobe Region.
The chamber participates in the development of trade and economic relations between the BeNeLux countries and Kazakhstan, and promotes investment cooperation while providing advice, information and other assistance to companies.
According to him, the ties between Kazakhstan and Belgium have also evolved and deepened.
“We have just two days ago [May 18] created the Belgian-Kazakh Business Council on the basis of our chamber and on the basis of Atameken [National Chamber of Entrepreneurs,]” said Van den Weghe.
The business council is the implementation of an enhanced partnership plan discussed during President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev’s official visit to Brussels in 2021, where he has met with Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo and Belgium’s King Philippe.
The high-level meetings served as a roadmap to drive bilateral cooperation in regions, according to Van den Weghe.
“Many things are happening in Kazakhstan from the BeNeLux region. There is more and more interest from the Kazakh companies towards the BeNeLux region as well,” he said.
The day continued with a tennis tournament. “In the BeNeLux we know what tennis is,” said Denis Van den Weghe, naming the top players of the region: Dutch star player Tom Okker and Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters from Belgium.
“Kazakhstan has achieved great achievements in tennis. Elena Rybakina has been giving hope to new generations on being world leaders in tennis,” he added.
Recent years have been full of historic milestones for Rybakina as she paved her way to the fourth place in the singles ranking after winning the 2023 Italian Open in Rome.
The Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Kazakhstan André Carstens was also among the initiators of the tennis tournament and took part in the event as an honorary guest and player.
“There are plenty of opportunities to join forces and find new avenues to inspire each other both in culture, in agriculture, sports, and of course, some economy and political reporting, but it goes hand in hand. It is very easy,” said the ambassador.