Princess Astrid heads Belgian trade mission to Senegal
Princess Astrid and a delegation of some 360 people are heading to Senegal from 21 to 25 May for the first Belgian trade mission of the year. The trip was initially planned for 2020 but had to be postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Besides more than 150 representatives of companies from different sectors, the delegation also includes academics and several politicians. The political delegation includes Foreign minister Hadja Lahbib, Walloon minister of Economy Willy Borsus and Brussels state secretary for Foreign Trade Pascal Smet. No members of the Flemish government are present.
Meetings will take place mainly in Senegal's capital Dakar and the new city of Diamniadio, built in the 2000s to relieve the capital. The sessions will be economic but also cultural and political. Some 30 Belgian-Senegalese partnerships are set to be signed.
Senegalese prime minister Amadou Ba and president Macky Sall will receive the official delegation. Lahbib will also meet with her Senegalese counterpart Aïssata Tall Sall.
Because of its political and economic stability and port, Senegal is seen as a gateway to the West African Economic and Monetary Union, a market of some 140 million people.
The delegation, led by princess Astrid, leaves on Sunday, but the mission will kick off concretely on Monday, 22 May, with seminars and visits to Belgian companies operating in the region. A particular focus will be placed on female entrepreneurship. The mission is organised by Belgium's regional foreign trade agencies (FIT for Flanders, Awex for Wallonia and Hub.brussels for Brussels), the federal ministry of Foreign Affairs and the federal agency for Foreign Trade.
Because of its political and economic stability and port, Senegal is seen as a gateway to the West African Economic and Monetary Union, a market of some 140 million people. In terms of goods trade with Belgium, Senegal ranks 47th. In 2022, exports accounted for 1.17 billion euros, but a large majority (76.4 per cent) were mineral products that only transited through Belgium. Furthermore, Belgium exported transport equipment (6.5 per cent), machinery and tools (3.9 per cent) and chemical products (3.6 per cent) to Senegal. In the opposite direction, imports accounted for only 37.3 million euros. Belgium mainly imported mineral products (42.5 per cent), vegetable products (23.8 per cent) and metals (18.3 per cent).
Princess Astrid has been in charge of trade missions since her brother Philippe ascended the throne ten years ago. It is the fourth time she has accompanied a delegation to the African continent, following missions to Angola and South Africa in 2013, Côte d'Ivoire in 2017 and Morocco in 2018.
Princess Astrid of Belgium © BELGA PHOTO HANDOUT ROLL BACK MALARIA