The American Chamber of Commerce’s (AMCHAM) New Year reception on Thursday night was the perfect meeting place for some 160 members of the business community, numerous ambassadors, representatives of the American financial industry in Luxembourg, Employment Minister Nicolas Schmit and the Economy Minister of the recently-formed coalition government.
As the new Deputy Prime Minister, the Minister of Economy as well as of Small and Medium Sized Businesses and Tourism, Etienne Schneider, talked spoke to event participants, revealing the government’s 2014 plans and reforms aimed at local entrepreneurs and business representatives in the Grand Duchy.
National economic and financial committee to be created
Beginning his speech on a positive note, Minister Schneider wished local businesses the best of luck in the new year and revealed that the government’s priority for 2014 is to create a national economic and financial committee, a high-level task force to address the economic and financial sectors, with first results expected within the first six months of its creation.
Internal reforms conducted by the government were also discussed on the night by Minister Schneider, who pointed out the need for multiple portfolios to be held by one person for reasons of efficiency.
Schneider will therefore be in charge of Luxembourg’s economy, business and tourism sectors, but will also deal with research and technological development matters, a decision made by the coalition ‘‘for the more efficient use of the country’s resources, a better coordination of the economic policies and a better marketing and promotion for Luxembourg.’’
Luxembourg for Finance and Luxembourg for Business to merge
Future plans to merge Luxembourg for Finance and Luxembourg for Business were also revealed on Thursday night. And the minister made mention of the corporate tax that will not be increased for businesses operating in the Grand Duchy.
Moreover, Schneider brought into discussion the two percent VAT rise, which he said will not influence wage indexation, nor will it impact the country’s living costs.
He further explained that if the government implemented the rise before October 2014, the VAT rise would not have any effect on inflation.
Better infrastructure and legal system for start-ups
Good news were also announced for new businesses and young entrepreneurs at the AMCHAM event. According to Schneider, the government is engaged in diversifying Luxembourg’s economy and very determined to support the creation of new businesses, by providing a more simplified legal system and a better infrastructure for start-ups.
Alongside business development, the government plans to develop high value-added activity and invest in eco-technology and logistics. The latter is designed to create new jobs for unskilled or low-skilled workers and address unemployment. Schneider went on to emphasize the importance of developing the logistics sector since 50 percent of Luxembourg’s unemployed population is currently unskilled.
Answering several questions posed by members of the business community attending the reception, Etienne Schneider referred to the taxation rates for the country’s richest which the government has not yet decided upon. He assured the audience that the minimum wage will not decrease and reinforced the government’s commitment to continue its support towards all companies based in Luxembourg.
Eco-technology, logistics and high value-added activity to be developed
Finally, Minister Schneider mentioned the need for the European Union to set standards on importing goods from outside the European community, and reinforced the government’s interest in bringing down the national deficit by either cutting spending worth of 1.5 billion euros or raising income in the years to come.
Following Minister Schneider’s speech, Brown Brothers Harriman’s Director in Luxembourg, Geoffrey Cook delivered a speech as a representative for the American banks in Luxembourg and pointed out the important contribution of American financial institutions for Luxembourg’s economy.
American banks continue to support Luxembourg’s financial industry
With 60 percent of the total funds in Luxembourg (American banks have two trillion dollars in assets in the Grand Duchy) have played a significant role since the 1990s and continue to see Luxembourg as an important financial centre in the long-term.
Hosted by AMCHAM with the support of the US Embassy, the event also represented a good opportunity for Ambassador Robert Mandell, and AMCHAM’s CEO Paul Schonenberg to wish participants a good and prosperous year.
Luxembourg the best place for companies’ EU headquarters
AMCHAM’s Paul Schonenberg emphasized the organisation’s aim to make Luxembourg stronger for the benefit of both the state and its people. He congratulated the new government’s plans and good initiatives and pointed out that the international community remains unrepresented in the political decision-making process.
Schonenberg concluded that Luxembourg remains the best place for companies to have European headquarters.
The American Chamber of Commerce in Luxembourg is an international voluntary organization of business and professional persons committed to fostering business relations between the United States and Luxembourg.
An article published on Wort English on January 17 2014.