Minister Etienne Schneider, preseted with AMCHAM Economic Strength and Prosperity Award; Credit: Geoff Thompson

On Friday evening, the American Chamber of Commerce in Luxembourg (AMCHAM) held their annual Thanksgiving Dinner at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Luxembourg-Dommeldange.

Paul Schonenberg, Chairman AMCHAM, delivered the welcome address, describing it as one of the oldest celebrations, one in which sharing friendship is very important, and is delighted in being to celebrate it in Luxembourg.

He gave a special welcome to Luxembourg’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for the Economy, Etienne Schneider, as well as the ambassadors from the Czech Republic, Britain, Poland, Belgium, The Netherlands and Japan, plus the acting Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy in Luxembourg.

Representatives of the evening’s two sponsors, Post and Openfield, both also addressed the 190+ strong audience before they enjoyed a Thanksgiving dinner of pumpkin soup, roast turkey (actually, 27 turkeys were prepared in total) and pecan pie.

Paul Schonenberg introduced then introduced the guest speaker, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Economy, Etienne Schneider, to whom AMCHAM announced the inaugural AMCHAM Economic Strength and Prosperity Award, and presented a crystal bull, a symbol of economic prosperity and growth.

Upon being given the microphone, Minister Schneider revealed that, on Monday, he had been awarded the Space Cowboy award in Texas, and confided that the award came with a cowboy hat, etc., but without a horse - now he has a bull to go with it...

In his address he revealed that, when he took over as Minister of Economy, there were sceptics against his targets of growing the economy. Now there is 4-5% growth, and unemployment is going below 6%.

He said it is very strange with some people actually complaining about growth, and some of the electorate preferring parties advocating lower growth.

The previous government’s strategy, he stated, was to maintain living standards through borrowing; now borrowing is one third of what it was before.

He argued for a more sustainable growth and he recalled reading the book by Jeremy Rifkin, which led to the road to transform the economy. He revealed that, despite him asking for more than €1 million, they agreed on a price of €400k, half of which was paid by the Chambre de Commerce. What we (Luxembourg) got was a 450-page report, out of which 9 working groups were set up. He revealed that he was very disappointed with the result of yesterday’s parliamentary debate, out of which were just questions and no decisions.

He addressed the issue of space mining and recollected his meeting with the director of NASA early in his ministerial tenure. With the previous government’s wish to diversify into different business sectors, he saw that most countries are doing similar things, e.g. ICT services, so he wanted to do something different.

With SES already in Luxembourg, he researched how it started in the 1980s, including the Luxembourg government giving a state guarantee equal to 5% of the state’s annual budget to insure the satellite launch. He also talked about the birth of the financial sector in the Grand Duchy..

He reflected on the initial negative feedback (to his ideas re the space sector) which, within 18 months, has completely turned around with the major space companies now setting up here, and over 100 companies considering to set up an operation here.

As well as the US, Luxembourg is the only country to have a Space Act; the main difference is that for companies in the US to fall under the act they would need to show that the majority of the finance was from US money. He confirmed that Luxembourg is setting up a Space Agency which will be supported by funds that will support the agency and its development.

One if the evening’s sponsors, Swarowski, then distributed gifts fir all attendees. After the dessert, the Tombola was held, with top prizes including flights to New York with Brussels Airlines, and to Dubai with Emirates, both business class and first class, with the latter also including a helicopter transfer.

The party cotiued with entertainment by Marco Boesen & Co, mainly easy-listening music during the meal and more up-tempo tunes to dance the night away...