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 trade missions on the request of by one or several of the Regions or at the request of the Federal Government,
- organising, developing and circulating 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. In this respect the Board unanimously agreed in December 2014 that the BFTA would contribute to the logistical organisation and the economic aspects of two State Visits abroad a year by the Belgian Sovereigns as from 2015.
Two major pillars of the BFTA
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.
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.