Economic diplomacy in the Belgian institutional context

 

According to the repartition of competences within the Belgian constitutional framework, economic diplomacy falls within the competence of federal and regional actors, as well as parastatal bodies. Since the state reforms of 1988, 1992 and 2002, the focus of foreign trade - an important dimension of economic diplomacy - has been at the regional level.

 
Regional Agencies and Federal Public Services

The three Regions have their own agencies responsible for promoting foreign trade and attracting investment: FIT for the Flemish Region, Hub.brussels for the Brussels Region and AWEX for the Walloon Region). They work closely in cooperation with the Federal Public Services Economy, Finance and Foreign Affairs. The Federal Public Service Finances provides information about the attractive tax regimes Belgium has to offer with regard to foreign investments and about the application of Belgian tax legislation.

This Belgian inter-federal collaboration is replicated abroad through a vast network of Belgian embassies and consulates-general, as well as regional economic and commercial attachés, who contribute on a daily basis to the implementation of an effective economic diplomacy, as close as possible to Belgian interests abroad.

In addition to the regional agencies and the Federal Public Services, a number of parastatal actors are also involved in economic diplomacy.

 
Parastatal bodies

  • Created by the Cooperation Agreement of 24 May 2002 concluded between the Federal Authority and the Regions, the Belgian Foreign Trade Agency (BFTA) is an important actor in our economic diplomacy. The BFTA is in charge of the logistical organisation of State visits led by His Majesty the King and it also co-organises the Belgian economic missions chaired by Her Royal Highness Princess Astrid, alongside FIT, Hub.brussels, Awex and the FPS Foreign Affairs. The BFTA is also responsible for the organisation, development and communication of information, studies and documentation relating to foreign markets to the regional foreign trade departments, as well as any other task of common interest unanimously decided by the Executive Board.
     
  • The mission of the Belgian Corporation for International Investment (BMI-SBI) is to co-finance in the mid or long term the foreign investments of Belgian companies, with a view to safeguarding both the interests of the host country and the Belgian economic interests.
     
  • Credendo is a credit insurance group operating in all segments of credit and political risk insurance, offering a range of products that cover risks worldwide.

 
Credendo and Finexpo

The Special Law of 13 July 2001 provides for the regionalisation of market and export policy, with the exception of (1) the granting of guarantees against export, import and investment risks and (2) multilateral trade policy. The granting of export, import and investment risk guarantees is the responsibility of Finexpo and the Ducroire (now Credendo, see above).

Compared to Credendo, Finexpo is not a separate body but an inter-ministerial advisory committee managed by the Directorate financial support to exports (B2) within the Federal Public Service Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation and by the Administration for International and European Financial Affairs of the Federal Public Service Finance. Finexpo aims to support the export of Belgian capital goods and related services.