Our vision is a mutually beneficial, flourishing trade and investment relationship and sustainable diplomatic, political, technical and scientific partnership based on information, expertise and technological exchanges that enhance the development of our two countries.
South Africa and Belgium share a long history based on close language and cultural ties. These relations were institutionalized following the first meeting of the Joint Commission between South Africa and the Kingdom of Belgium which was successfully concluded in Brussels on 10th November 2006, thereby implementing the Joint Declaration signed between the two countries during the official visit of former President Thabo Mbeki to Belgium in November 2004.
Since 1994 there has been an exchange of numerous high level visits. President Mbeki and former Prime Minister Verhofstadt met twice during 2001 as well as in 2004. President Zuma undertook his first official trip to the European Union (EU) and the Kingdom of Belgium on 28-29 September 2010. The President was supported by the Ministers of International Relations and Cooperation, Defence, Science and Technology, Water and Environmental Affairs, Trade and Industry and Basic Education. From31 October to 4 November 2010, Mr Vanackere, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Institutional Reform of the Federal Government of Belgium paid an Official Visit to South Africa. He had bilateral discussion with Minister Nkoana-Mashabane (DIRCO), Minister Lindiwe Sisulu (Defence) and the Chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on International Relations and Cooperation. The discussion points included strengthening bilateral relations such as finalisation of the Multi-Purpose Import Platform that is intended to assist Small Entrepreneurs to export their products to Europe.
South Africa-Belgium relations have been given renewed impetus by Ambassador Nkosi as he has embarked on a series of courtesy calls and regional visits to further strengthen relations and promote trade and investment to South Africa.
Particular attention is being placed on developing partnerships and attracting investments in the area of infrastructure development with specific focus on Ports and harbours, transport networks, the energy sector, mining and beneficiation. Ambassador Nkosi paid a successful visit to the Port of Antwerp and this was followed by an extensive tour of the harbour and engagement with key officials with the Port Administration and the Training Centre who have trained more than 1000 South Africans in various areas of Port Management.
Additional emphasis will be to strengthen political relations between South Africa and Belgium through structured engagements creating a climate conducive for business to thrive to the mutual benefit of both countries. Specific focus will be placed on the extension of the already excellent relationships the Mission has forged with various Regional Chambers of Commerce and particular Corporate Sectors that would assist in addressing specific developmental challenges in South Africa.
Amongst the most recent achievements was the Review of Development Cooperation hosted by the Embassy between delegations from South Africa and Belgium. South Africa is one of the eighteen partner countries selected for Belgian development cooperation where specific programmes such as Capacity Building in the Department of Health, Post Settlement Development Assistance and the Facility for Public Service Delivery form the basis of the cooperation. The Review of Development Cooperation saw the technical teams of both countries thrash out impeding challenges resulting in tangible outcomes which will find expression in the implementation of the programmes.
South Africa Foreign Minister, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane hosts Didier Reynders for bilateral discussions
On 4 July a bilateral consultation took place between Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane and her counterpart Minister of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and European Affairs, Deputy Prime Minister Didier Reynders. The bilateral discussion focused on measures that would improve trade and investment flows between South African and Belgium. In this context, Minister Nkoana-Mashabane elaborated on South Africa’s infrastructure programme which aimed to develop South Africa’s economy through the expansion of water, roads, rails and energy infrastructure. The two ministers noted with satisfaction Belgium‘s contribution to South Africa in the form of Overseas Direct Assistance (ODA) in Public Health, Education (Vocational training/FET) and Land Reform and Restitution.
During his visit to South Africa Minister Reynders met with Minister Rob Davies to discuss the deepening and expansion of South Africa-Belgium trade. He also met with Minister Susan Shabangu to discuss cooperation in the area of mineral resources. Minister Reynders visited the province of KwaZulu-Natal where he met the Premier, Dr Zweli Mkhize, their discussions were aimed at expanding cooperation to advance the province’s economic and logistical linkages.
President Zuma pays a courtesy visit to Belgian Prime Minister
President Zuma met with Belgian Prime Minister Dr Elio Di Rupo on the afternoon of 18 September 2012. The President and Prime Minister Di Rupo exchanged views on bilateral relations as well as recent developments on the African continent, notably in the Great Lakes Region. The President also used the opportunity to brief Prime Minister Di Rupo on the South African Government’s infrastructure development programme.
Bilateral relations between South Africa and Belgium are excellent.
Belgium is South Africa’s 13th global trading partner, with total exports from South Africa to Belgium in 2011 of R14,6 billion and total imports in the same period of R9,1 billion, giving South Africa a positive trade balance.
Belgium ranks 6th in the world in terms of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in South Africa, focusing on the following sectors: mining, green energy, ports, logistics and agriculture.
There is extensive cooperation between the ports of Durban and Antwerp and Belgium is a leading country in ports management, transport and logistics.
Belgium is an important source of inbound tourism to South Africa. According to South African Tourism, around 40 000 Belgian tourists visited South Africa in 2011, placing her in the 13th position globally as a long haul market for tourists.
Belgium is also a reliable supporter of South Africa’s national development objectives. Currently Belgium has allocated an amount of €25 million for Official Development Cooperation over five years. In addition, the Region of Flanders has a development cooperation programme in South Africa valued at €5 million per annum over five years, totalling €25 million.
What services fall in the ambit of South Africa’s Bilateral Relations with Belgium?
- The Bilateral section at the Embassy is responsible for ensuring that relations between South Africa and Belgium remain sound through regular engagements with an array of Federal and Regional interlocutors.
- The section also ensures that the Mission promotes trade and investment to South Africa through its website and annual publication depicting past successes and future plans.
- It promotes and facilitates Tourism to South Africa with the assistance of South African Tourism based in the Netherlands.
Past and forthcoming Events
South Africa-Luxembourg: Ambassador Nkosi handed over his letter of Credence to His Royal Highness the Grand Duke of Luxembourg on the 12 &13 June 2012.
South Africa – Belgium: Foreign Minister Didier Reynders visited SA for the first time during July 2012.
Mandela Day – 18th July: On Wednesday, 18th July 2012 the South African Embassy in Brussels joined South Africa, and the world in celebrating President Nelson Mandela’s 94th birthday by volunteering their time to 3 Children’s Home’s in the Brussels City Centre. The Homes expressed their “gratitude to the South African Embassy for the unique and selfless service rendered to them on this special day in honour of the world’s icon, Nelson Mandela”.
Department of International Relations and Cooperation – www.dirco.gov.za
Belgium Ministry of Foreign Affairs – www.diplomatie.belgium.be