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The Directorate General for Bilateral Affairs (DGB) defends Belgian interests in and in respect of other countries. It specifically focuses on supporting Belgian economic interests.
At the same time, on the bilateral level, it promotes our ethical and social principles in the areas of democracy, welfare, human rights and individual dignity.
The DGB aims to be a knowledge centre and hub for consultation and joint action, for all domestic actors that have an affinity with foreign policy.
The DGB provides analysis and viewpoints to multilateral policy and supports our multilateral action through bilateral channels.
The Directorate-General for Bilateral Affairs consists of a secretariat and four directorates:
- B0.0: Secretariat and General Affairs;
- B1: Bilateral relations (geographical sectors);
- B1.0 Neighbouring countries;
- B1.1 Western and Central Europe;
- B1.2 Eastern and South-Eastern Europe, Central Asia;
- B1.3 Middle East and North Africa;
- B1.4 Sub-Saharan Africa;
- B1.5 South and East Asia, Oceania;
- B1.6 America & the Caribbean;
- B2: Financial support for export (Export finance and credit insurance);
- B3: Economic interests (Image of Belgium, Chambers of Commerce and Advisors for Economic Diplomacy/Agency for Foreign Trade, economic agreements);
- B4: International transport policy.
The Directorate for Bilateral Relations includes the departments "Neighbouring Countries," "Western and Central Europe," "Eastern and South-eastern Europe and Central Asia," "Middle East and North Africa," "Sub-Saharan Africa," "South and East Asia and Oceania," and "Latin America."
Financial Support for Exports
The Directorate for Financial Support for Exports is tasked with examining the possibilities for public intervention in export credits and acts as Secretariat of the Finexpo Committee. To promote exports, Finexpo has 5 types of instruments at its disposal. In addition to interest rate stabilisations, there are four concessional instruments, namely interest subsidies, interest subsidies with additional grant, the grant, and both tied and un-tied State to State Loans.
The Directorate for Economic Interests is made up of the departments "Representation of Economic Interests", "Foreign Trade Agency, Chambers of Commerce and Advisors in Economic Diplomacy (AED)", "Economic Agreements" and "International Transport Policy".
The Directorate is an important link in economic diplomacy and supports the other regional and federal players involved in economic diplomacy.
Its activities can be summarised in 4 "I"'s:
The Directorate for Economic Interests (B3) of FPS Foreign Affairs ensures a smooth flow of information between the players involved in economic diplomacy and also to Belgian firms abroad.
Directorate B3 and the Belgian diplomatic missions therefore inform Belgian firms about opportunities abroad, for example through the Trade4U service managed by the Foreign Trade Agency.
This information-providing role also concerns the Investment Liaison Unit, which houses the B3 Directorate, the Regions, the FPS Finance and the FPS Economy.
The Directorate provides support to Belgian firms abroad and helps them make introductions there. B3 and our diplomatic posts also support our firms in their activities and in developing recognition of their profiles, together with the representatives of the regions.
Alongside the Royal Palace, Directorate B3 is also the main organiser of the two state visits that His Majesty King Philippe makes each year. In accordance with the wishes of our Sovereign, these state visits include an important economic dimension that gives our business leaders the opportunity to meet with high-level policy makers in the host countries.
Directorate B3 also coordinates with the regional agencies for export promotion and the Foreign Trade Agency (FTA), the organisation of Belgian economic missions led by Her Royal Highness Princess Astrid as representative of His Majesty the King. Two Belgian economic missions are organised each year, and these always prove to be a great success for the Belgian firms that see it as an opportunity to meet key people, with a view to conquering new markets or strengthening their market position. The calendar for the missions can be viewed on the website of the FTA.
Directorate B3 and the posts also provide support to a wide network of Belgian Chambers of Commerce around the world. The Chambers are private initiatives. Their existence and permanent operations are thanks to fellow Belgians who work hard to improve, facilitate and further develop the presence of Belgian (and Luxembourg) firms abroad. Besides the Chambers of Commerce, there are various Belgian Business Clubs abroad that have a less formal form and organise more focused and limited activities than the Chambers of Commerce. The Embassy or Consulate General of Belgium can advise whether there is a Chamber of Commerce or a Belgian Business Club in their jurisdiction. Directorate B3 also manages the network of advisors in economic diplomacy whose task is to support our diplomatic posts and share their knowledge of the local political and economic fabric.
To defend the interests of our firms as effectively as possible, the Directorate intervenes in various areas.
Following consultation between the federal and regional levels, B3 defends Belgium within the Market Access Advisory Committee (MAAC). This Committee can alert the European Commission to the obstacles faced by our firms in third countries.
B3 ensures the follow-up of economic agreements within the FPS Foreign Affairs. These include social security agreements as well as agreements for the avoidance of double taxation, in each case in cooperation with the FPS Social Security and the FPS Finance. Directorate B3 is also responsible for bilateral investment agreements.
B3 also ensures the follow-up of the Kimberley Process and coordinates the actions of the FPS Foreign Affairs in the field of sustainable chain care (due diligence).
Directorate B3 also works hard to enhance Belgium's positive image abroad and, in this sense, supports the diplomatic posts in organising and financing projects that will promote Belgium's image. For example, just under 200 events are organised every year that contribute to improving the perception of Belgium by policymakers, opinion leaders and the general public in the other countries.
The economic missions and state visits organised by Directorate B3 are also partly focused on image and thus contribute to the image of our country abroad.
In the ‘lend-a-residence’ formula, a company, organisation or individual is given the opportunity to promote its or their activities in the official residence of the head of post, if the latter agrees, under the "conditions" to be laid down together with the organiser.