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.
The Belgian Foreign Trade Agency endeavours 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.
The first pillar concerns the organisation of two economic missions a year. These are organised in cooperation 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.
Strategy and objectives
The year 2023 is about stabilisation, since we are returning to a steady pace of two State Visits and two Belgian economic missions per year.
The first State Visit will take our Sovereigns to South Africa between 22 and 27 March 2023. Africa will also be in the spotlight during the Belgian economic mission to Senegal, which will be led by Her Royal Highness Princess Astrid between 21 and 25 May 2023.
In the second half of the year, the Princess will take the Belgian delegation to Australia for a mission between 23 and 27 October. Finally, the year will come to a close with a State Visit to Germany between 5 and 7 December.
At the same time, the Studies department will publish the standard economic studies concerning Senegal and Australia. It will produce two new sectoral publications, ‘Belgian advanced manufacturing’ and ‘Belgian nuclear medicine’, as well as a study concerning the use of free-trade agreements by Belgian exporters.
The Statistics department will launch a new platform that allows users to obtain information concerning foreign trade 24/7.
The Belgian exporters’ database will be further improved and added to, among other things, thanks to data exchanges that are resuming with regional partners and also by incorporating company turnover figures. The Trade4U team will continue searching for international business opportunities, which will be targeted even more effectively using the new CPV classification.
Source: 2022 Activity report, Belgian Foreign Trade Agency
Date of publication: March 2023
The Belgian Foreign Trade Agency publishes its activity report annually. In addition to the events and noteworthy facts of the past year, this report also contains all the available information about the institutional and financial framework of the agency, its mission and the strategy and objectives of the Directorate General.
Budgetary allocations (2022 - 2023)
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 2022 budget amounted to € 4.353.465,00:
For 2023, the revenues of the federal and regional institutions amount to € 4.613.362,00:
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.
OVERVIEW OF 15 YEARS
BELGIAN FOREIGN TRADE AGENCY