The Belgian Foreign Trade Agency (BFTA) is a public institution, which is an incorporated body, founded under the Cooperation Agreement (only available in French and Dutch) of 24 May 2002 agreed between the Federal Authority and the Regions. The Belgian Foreign Trade Agency is managed by a Board of Directors whose Honorary President is His Majesty the King.

The Belgian Foreign Trade Agency is at the disposal of these three Regional authorities that promote exports, and also collaborates with the Federal Public Service Foreign Affairs. That is how the Agency acts as a vast platform in which the Federal competence of international relations and the Regional competence of foreign trade meet.

Mission Statement

The Belgian Foreign Trade Agency makes an effort to provide support to the three Regions and the federal government in promoting foreign trade.

In accordance with Article 3 of the Cooperation Agreement (only available in French and Dutch) dated 24 May 2002 between the Federal Government and the Regions, the Agency is responsible for:

  • deciding on and organising joint economic missions linked to an initiative by one or several of the Regions or at the request of the Federal Government,
  • organising, developing and disseminating information, studies and documentation about external markets to regional services responsible for foreign trade in accordance with Appendix 1,
  • tasks of common interest decided unanimously by the Board of Directors. In December 2014, the Board therefore decided that the Belgian Foreign Trade Agency would, from 2015, contribute to the logistical organisation and the economic aspects of two State Visits abroad by the King and the Queen of Belgium per year.

First pillar

The first pillar concerns the organisation of two economic missions a year. These are organised together with the Wallonia Export-Investment Agency (AWEX), hub.brussels and Flanders Investment & Trade (FIT). In addition, the BFTA collaborates with the FPS Foreign Affairs, which is responsible for the protocol and political aspects of the programme. Companies from various industries take part in these missions, which chiefly focus on economic growth regions and countries. Belgian business representatives can establish high-level contacts with leading local industrial players, organisations and public bodies during these missions.

Second pillar

A second pillar relates to the collection and distribution of information about the foreign markets. Its Overseas Business Opportunities Centre specialises in the distribution of three types of trade information: overseas public tenders, international projects and trade proposals. The department also offers public procurement guidelines, specifications for a tender at cost, personalized foreign trade statistics subscriptions, newsflashes with economic information as well as market regulations. It organises seminars with experts in public contracts.
On April 1st 2015, a new package named Trade4U was launched, allowing companies to receive personalised business opportunities through an app. The BFTA also publishes econonomic studies, country studies and memos containing comparative national and international statistics about foreign trade. Finally, the agency also provides advice about international trade regulations and legislation.

Strategy and objectives

As for 2020, there is a great deal of uncertainty for 2021, which is complicating the establishment of a calendar of activities. The coronavirus crisis that has shaken the world lingers on and caution is required when setting objectives.

The State Visit to Lithuania has been rescheduled for 10 and 11 June 2021 but is yet to be confirmed, and uncertainty remains concerning the second State Visit of the year.

The economic missions in the autumn have a greater chance of taking place under normal conditions, with vaccination going well in the countries concerned. An economic mission to the UK has been planned for 5 to 8 September. The mission comes at an opportune moment in the wake of Brexit and should enable Belgian companies to reposition themselves in the UK market. This mission will be followed shortly afterwards by an economic mission to the United States (Atlanta, Boston and New York), from 2 to 9 October 2021.

At the same time, the Studies and Statistics departments will tackle the second part of the COVID-19 study, and will carry out two new sectoral studies: “Belgian Sustainable Food Systems” and “Belgian Health Technologies / Medtech”. Since the study on the use of Free Trade Agreements has generated considerable interest, it will be the subject of long-term follow-up in 2021 and beyond.

2021 will also see the launch of the new version of the www.abh-ace.be website, which has been completely overhauled, with a reorganisation, a technological update and face lift.

The database of Belgian exporters will continue to be refined and improved. The Trade4U team will seek out targeted international business opportunities for Belgian companies from various sources around the world.

Source: 2020 Activity report, Belgian Foreign Trade Agency
Date of publication: May 2021

Activity report

Budgetary allocations (2021 - 2022)

The Agency is funded by an indexed federal allocation and by contributions from the Regions based on the distribution scale with regard to taxes on natural persons..

The receipts in the 2021 budget amounted to € 4.214.000:

Table dotations 2021


For 2022, the revenues of the federal and regional institutions will amount to € 4.242.044:

Table dotations 2022

 

Foundation

In recent decades, the competence for ‘foreign trade’ has undergone some phases of regionalisation in Belgium. Until 1990, the Belgian Foreign Trade Office (Belgische Dienst voor Buitenlandse Handel - Office belge du Commerce extérieur) was the most important institution for export promotion. In 1990, a Walloon agency - Wallonia Export-Investment Agency was founded, followed by a Flemish equivalent in 1991 Flanders Investment & Trade. That same year, Brussels Invest & Export, now hub.brussels was also founded. The Cooperation Agreement (only available in French and Dutch) of 24 May 2002 between the Federal Government and the Regions laid the foundation for the creation of the Belgian Foreign Trade Agency.

Group picture BFTA colleagues
 © BelgaImage / Laurie Dieffembacq




OVERVIEW OF 15 YEARS
BELGIAN FOREIGN TRADE AGENCY

Overview of 15 years Belgian Foreign Trade Agency

Remote video URL

On December 18th 2018 we celebrated the 15th anniversary of the Belgian Foreign Trade Agency in presence of His Majesty the King, Honorary President of the Agency, and Her Royal Highness Princess Astrid, Representative of His Majesty the King.