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Canada - Belgium Relations

Political relations

Canada and Belgium are two officially multilingual countries with federal political systems. For a great many years, our countries have maintained excellent bilateral relations based on bonds of friendship and trust, as well as the shared values of liberty, democracy, solidarity and tolerance. These bonds were strengthened by Canada’s contribution to the liberation of Belgium in the First and Second World Wars and the major convergences between the foreign policies of our two countries, based on a strong commitment to multilateralism on the basis of international law, the promotion of good governance and the maintenance of strong transatlantic ties.

Canada and Belgium both deployed troops to Afghanistan in order to support that country's security, governance and development. Both countries are also actively seeking solutions to crises and conflicts, notably in Africa, and the fight against arms build-up and the recruitment of child soldiers. We also collaborate on issues of natural resource development in situations of conflict. 

Canada and Belgium cooperate, in particular, in the context of the United Nations (UN), the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie (OIF), the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Belgium's role in the European Union is another important aspect of our bilateral political dialogue.

In recognition of the importance of strengthening the ties between our two countries and of establishing a "privileged dialogue", the Canadian and Belgian departments of foreign affairs signed a joint declaration on December 16, 1999, concerning the strengthening of bilateral relations.

Belgium and Canada also signed bilateral agreements in the areas of taxation, social security, judicial cooperation on crime, air transportation, reciprocal recognition of drivers’ licences, as well as in scientific, industrial and technological cooperation.

In 2005, Belgium and Canada signed an agreement on youth mobility. The agreement, which came into force January 1, 2007, allows young Belgians to travel to Canada and young Canadians to Belgium, for no more than a year, in order to visit the country and discover its culture while having the opportunity to work there. This successful initiative has allowed almost 5,000 young Belgians to visit Canada so far. Since 2012, the annual quota has been fixed at 750 participants from each country.

The Government of Canada maintains three diplomatic missions in Belgium: the Embassy of Canada to the Kingdom of Belgium and the Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg, the Mission of Canada to the European Union, and the Joint Delegation of Canada to NATO. Canada also has an honorary consul for Flanders. Moreover, the Province of Quebec is represented by the Délégation générale du Québec in Brussels.

In Canada, Belgium is represented by its Embassy in Ottawa and a Consulate General in Montreal; it also has a network of honorary consuls. The three Belgian regions (Walloon Region, Brussels-Capital Region and the Flanders Region) have separate economic and trade offices in Montreal, a new Brussels-Capital economic and trade office in Vancouver and a shared office in Toronto. The Walloon Region and the French community of Belgium also have a delegation in Quebec City.

Economic and trade relations

Canadian exports to Belgium amounted to CAD 3.2 billion in 2016 (rank 4 in the EU). It is important to note that the port of Antwerp is a major point of entry for Canadian goods in Europe. Belgium also serves as a point of entry to Europe, as 70% of Belgium’s trade is conducted with its European Union (EU) partners. In 2016, Canada's imports from Belgium were valued at CAD 2.21 billion (rank 7 in the EU).

In 2015, Belgium-Luxembourg was the 14th export destination of Canada’s trade in services with CAD 930 million and Belgium-Luxembourg ranked at the 19th position regarding services imports for an amount of CAD 710 million.

Bilateral investment is very important for both countries. Canadian investments in Belgium totalled CAD 1.73 billion in 2016, ranking 11th among Canadian direct investment destinations in the EU. The stock of Belgian direct investment in Canada was worth CAD 3.2 billion in 2016, making Belgium the 18th largest foreign direct investor in Canada on a global basis. There are approximately 50 Belgian subsidiaries in Canada and about the same number of Canadian subsidiaries in Belgium.

Canadian and Belgian institutions and companies enjoy collaborative relations in science and technology, mostly based on similar approaches to development and synergies in a range of sectors, including life sciences, microelectronics, environmental and imaging technologies. Numerous cooperative agreements have been signed in this area between the three Belgian regions and the provinces of Quebec, Ontario and Alberta.

Canadian companies interested in doing business in Belgium or Belgian companies interested in Canadian business opportunities are invited to consult the Canadian Trade Commissioner website.

Cultural relations

Cultural relations between Canada and Belgium have grown and diversified over the past 30 years. Belgian programmers frequently host Canadian artists, both Anglophone and Francophone, in the areas of theatre, music, cinema and literature, the visual arts, and dance. Every year, there are several dozen cultural events, featuring individual artists or groups of artists, particularly in contemporary arts, new technologies and new media.

Conversely, many Belgian artists perform in Canada, whether in the plastic arts, music, children’s theatre, and especially dance, as part of festivals or in art centres in major cities (Montreal, Quebec City, Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver).

Academic relations

Belgian and Canadian universities have been developing cooperative and exchange agreements and relations for many years. About 20 Canadian universities work with Belgian universities in areas as varied as pure sciences, the humanities and social sciences, health, etc.

The North American Studies Centre (CENA) at the Université Libre de Bruxelles is a reference not only in Canadian studies, but also for Belgium’s knowledge of Canada.

Belgian research centres also cooperate in bilateral or multilateral programs through framework agreements with the European Union. Occasionally, there are even direct collaborations between Belgian centres and Canadian businesses (ex. the Metallurgy Research Centre at the Université de Liège or IMEC, a microelectronics centre affiliated with the University of Leuven (KUL).

July 2016

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