After a year of renewal and reflection in 2019, 2020 will present major challenges. The coronavirus crisis is disrupting all prospects.
The first State Visit of the year, scheduled for Italy in March, has had to be postponed, as has the Belgian economic mission to Senegal in June 2020. The world is holding its breath, and the Agency must adapt to harsh realities and revise its agenda.
A Belgian economic mission to Australia had been planned from 16 to 24 October, and a State Visit to Chile from 23 to 27 November 2020. However, implementation of this action plan is dependent on the evolution of the pandemic.
In the absence of any certainty about initiatives abroad, the team will focus on initiatives that can be carried out “from within”.
The www.abh-ace.be website will be completely overhauled, with a reorganisation, a technology update and a fresh look. The social media positioning strategy will also be refined and enhanced in 2020.
The database of Belgian exporters will continue to be expanded and CPV codes will be introduced alongside the former Thesaurus reference information. The team will continue its efforts to provide tailor-made international business opportunities to Belgian companies. Only one seminar will be organised in 2020, due to the lockdown measures.
An economic study will be published as part of the mission to Australia. The “Logistics and Transport” and “Sustainable Building Solutions” sectors will be the themes for two sectoral studies in 2020. The analysis detailing the reasons for the reduced use of certain Free Trade Agreements by Belgian companies will be published in the second half of the year.
The Statistics Department should be particularly in demand given the significant impact of the coronavirus on the economy in general, and foreign trade in particular. A project to make monthly information available online, giving an overview of bilateral relations in terms of foreign trade, is under development.
The HR department will set up a personnel plan under the aegis of the new Head of department, Wouter Decoster.
Finally, the Head of the State Visits and Trade Missions Department, Rose Donck, will provide in-depth coaching to her team, which has recently been expanded with new recruits.
Source: 2019 Activity report, Belgian Foreign Trade Agency
Date of publication: May 2020