Bel­gium reels as thou­sands lose jobs

The Myanmar Times - - Business -

BEL­GIUM is won­der­ing whether the world is out to get it af­ter the small and di­vided na­tion saw thou­sands of lay­offs or­dered by multi­na­tion­als in the past month alone.

Dutch bank ING is cut­ting 7000 jobs, with at least half of them in Bel­gium, ac­cord­ing to the group’s Nether­lands-based CEO.

The blood­let­ting comes only weeks af­ter Cater­pil­lar, the US ma­chin­ery gi­ant, shut­tered a ma­jor plant in Bel­gium’s blighted city of Charleroi, end­ing 2000 jobs in one painful blow.

Also in Septem­ber, hun­dreds of Bel­gian jobs fell at French in­surer Axa and US-owned cof­fee maker Ja­cobs Douwe Eg­berts.

Ger­many’s Lufthansa is now threat­en­ing to do away with the coun­try’s only ma­jor air car­rier, Brus­sels Air­lines.

With so much pain in such lit­tle time, ob­servers are left with a feel­ing that the world is pil­ing on poor Bel­gium, a one­time eco­nomic pow­er­house that now stands di­vided and with­out direc­tion, an easy vic­tim for global com­pa­nies.

But de­spite the cries and fury, noth­ing has stopped the out­flow of jobs at for­eign-owned multi­na­tion­als in Bel­gium, a sit­u­a­tion that has gone on qui­etly for decades.

Twenty-first cen­tury Bel­gium, with a pop­u­la­tion of 11 mil­lion, no longer has the weight to with­stand glob­al­i­sa­tion as do its much big­ger neigh­bours France and es­pe­cially Ger­many.

The Nether­lands, mean­while, with its long mer­can­tilist his­tory, re­mains a choice home for multi­na­tion­als, in­clud­ing Unilever and re­tailer Ahold, which last year ate up rival Del­haize, a once proudly Bel­gian multi­na­tional.

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