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, respect for human rights, openness and tolerance.
These bonds originated in 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, committed in favour of a multilateralism based on international law, the promotion of good governance and maintaining strong transatlantic links.
Canada and Belgium cooperate at many levels, including at the United Nations, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, la Francophonie, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. Belgium's membership in the European Union is another important aspect of our bilateral political dialogue.
Canada and Belgium are not only close NATO allies but also work alongside each other in the fight against anti-personnel mines, chemical weapons and the use of child soldiers. Both support and contribute to peacekeeping operations and the fight against climate change.
A bilateral agreement on youth mobility allows young Belgians to travel to Canada and young Canadians to Belgium, for up to a year, to travel, work or study and discover.
Belgium and Canada have signed bilateral agreements in the areas of taxation, social security, judicial cooperation on crime, air transportation, reciprocal recognition of drivers’ licenses, as well as in scientific, industrial and technological cooperation, and more recently audio-visual co-production.
In June 2021, Prime Minister Trudeau visited Brussels and met Prime Minister Alexander De Croo, as well as His Majesty, King Philippe.
Their Majesties King Philippe and Queen Mathilde conducted a State visit to Ottawa, Toronto and Montréal from March 11-17, 2018, accompanied by a sizeable delegation, including the Foreign Minister, the State Secretary for Foreign Trade, all five Ministers-President of the sub-federal entities, more than 100 business executives, as well as 24 university rectors and presidents of higher learning institutions, and 30 journalists. A total of 46 agreements and Memoranda of Understanding were signed during the visit.
In June 2017, then-Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel visited Ottawa and met Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, as well as with then-Governor General David Johnston.
The Government of Canada maintains 3 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 is also represented by an honorary consul in Flanders and an honorary consul in Wallonia. Québec 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 Montréal; it also has a network of honorary consulates. The 3 Belgian Regional Governments (Région wallonne, Région Bruxelles-Capitale and the Flanders Region) have also representation offices in Canada.
Economic and trade relations
Canada and Belgium enjoy dynamic trade relations, characterized by significant bilateral investment and business exchanges, as well as the ongoing development of technological partnerships. Due to its strategic location at the gate of Europe, Belgium offers Canadian companies unparalleled access, by both air, land and sea, to Europe’s major markets and suppliers. The Belgian ports are major points of entry for Canadian goods in Europe. Canada, in turn, is a key gateway for Belgium to the North American market.
Belgium is Canada’s 16th largest merchandise trading partner in the world and the seventh largest within Europe.
Canadian merchandise exports to Belgium amounted to $2.7 billion in 2020. Top export sectors included precious stones and metals, oils seeds, mineral ores, pharmaceuticals products and nickel.
In 2020, Canada's merchandise imports from Belgium were valued at nearly $4.4 billion. Top import sectors were vehicles (including parts), organic chemicals, pharmaceutical products, pearls, machinery and equipment Canada’s bilateral trade in services with Belgium totaled $1.6 billion in 2020.
Bilateral investment is very important for both countries. There are more than 80 Belgian subsidiaries in Canada and about 70 Canadian subsidiaries in Belgium. In 2020, the stock value of Belgian direct investment in Canada was $4.7 billion while Canadian direct investment in Belgium was $243 million.
Innovation, Science and Technology
Canada and Belgium maintain a close, collaborative relationship in science and technology, particularly in the information and communications technologies (ICT), aerospace, life sciences, agriculture and sustainable technologies sectors.
Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA)
The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), whose provisional application started on September 21, 2017, is facilitating new economic opportunities for both Canada and Belgium, and exchanges are increasing.
CETA’s implementation has seen the elimination of 98% tariffs on Belgian exports to Canada, including for metal products, fish and seafood and specialty chemicals.
CETA is a modern and progressive agreement for free and fair trade with high standards, respecting the shared values between Canada and the European Union, including Belgium.
Cultural relations between Canada and Belgium have grown and have diversified in the past 30 years. Belgian organisers frequently contract Canadian artists, both anglophone and francophone, in disciplines such as theatre, music, movies, literature, visual arts and in dance.
Many Belgian artists perform in Canada, be it in the domains of the fine arts, film, or music, at festivals or art centers in Montréal, Québec, Ottawa, Toronto or Vancouver.
Canadian and Belgian universities have developed relations and MOUs for collaboration and exchanges for many years. About 20 Canadian universities collaborate with Belgian universities in various domains such as science, social sciences and health.
Partnerships and organizations
To develop effective responses to today’s most pressing global challenges, Canada and Belgium work closely in multilateral fora, such as:
- Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA)
- European Union (EU)
- La Francophonie
- International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)
- International Criminal Court (ICC)
- Multilateral Organization Performance Assessment Network (MOPAN)
- North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)
- Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
- Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)
- Pacific Alliance
- United Nations (UN)
- United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
- World Trade Organization (WTO)
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