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From 5 to 9 December, Her Royal Highness Princess Astrid of Belgium, representing His Majesty the King, will lead an economic mission to Japan. First destination is the capital Tokyo, followed by subsequent activities in Nagoya, Osaka and Kyoto. With 575 participants, this is the largest Belgian trade mission to Japan and the second largest ever. The large number of participants and diverse programme in several cities indicate the great interest of our companies, universities, academic and research centres in opportunities for renewed cooperation on Belgian trade relations with Japan.
Official delegation and participants
Princess Astrid will be accompanied by a ministerial delegation including Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs, European Affairs, Foreign Trade and Federal Cultural Institutions, Hadja Lahbib, Minister-President of the Government of Flanders, Jan Jambon and Brussels State Secretary responsible for Urbanism and Heritage, European and International Relations and Foreign Trade, Pascal Smet. Federal Secretary of State Mathieu Michel will also participate in activities of the economic mission in the field of digitisation.
In addition to the official delegation, the mission will host representatives of 210 leading Belgian companies, as well as universities and organisations active in Belgium's key economic sectors, including renewable energy, life sciences, sustainable eco-construction, logistics, automotive, game art and food industry. Through a range of events, meetings, B2B meetings and networking events, opportunities can be found for new local partners to renew and perpetuate the economic interaction between Belgium and Japan.
The princely economic missions are jointly organised by the FPS Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, the Foreign Trade Agency and the three regional agencies responsible for promoting trade relations and investments (Flanders Investment & Trade/FIT, Brussels Invest & Export /hub.brussels, Agence Wallonne à l'Exportation/Awex).
Historic economic ties and shared challenges for the future
Close economic ties between Belgium and Japan date back to 1866, with the signing of the first bilateral Treaty of Friendship, Trade and Navigation. Since then, Japan has consistently emerged as a major investor in our country with 237 Japanese companies operating in Belgium today. Conversely, around 80 Belgian companies are established in the Japanese market, with a clear focus on R&D and innovative technology. Belgium and Japan are important trade partners. Within the EU, Belgium is the third largest importer from Japan (EUR 9.3 billion in 2021) and second in terms of exports (EUR 7.6 billion in 2021), with a recent increase in Covid-19 vaccine exports. Both countries are firmly oriented towards the future, tackling shared challenges such as climate change, digital transition and public health.
Economic sectors where partnerships can be further strengthened
The mission puts an important focus on Belgium's leading sectors that will shape the future, such as life sciences, semiconductors & ICT, automotive, fintech, ecological construction, market access, clean tech & renewable energy. Like Belgium within the EU, Japan has resolutely opted for the twin green and digital transition with carbon neutrality as a goal by 2050. This provides an excellent basis for renewed and strengthened cooperation with a clear focus on new and clean technology.
Besides several B2B and B2G appointments for participants, numerous events with a specific sectoral focus will be organised by the regional agencies responsible for promoting trade relations and investments. FPS Foreign Affairs will also organise an event on "Business & Human Rights" in Japan at Doshisha University (Kyoto) which will focus on the expectations of the youth regarding gender equality in business.
During the economic mission, Princess Astrid will also meet Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Governor of Aichi Prefecture Hideaki Omura. Minister of Foreign Affairs Lahbib will hold consultations with her counterpart, Minister of Foreign Affairs Yoshimasa Hayashi.
The full programme and all useful information on the Belgian economic mission to Japan are available on the following website: https://www.belgianeconomicmission.be
Follow the Belgian Economic Mission to Japan on social media : #BEmissionJPN
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