The Qatari-Belgian relations have been witnessing remarkable growth in political and economic aspects since 2004.
They were further reinforced after the visit of His Highness the Father Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani to the Kingdom of Belgium in 2006 and the visit of King Philippe of Belgium in 2007 at the head of a business delegation, and the arrival of the first Qatari LNG ship to the Belgian port of Zeebrugge in 2007.
The State of Qatar and the Kingdom of Belgium have signed several agreements and memorandums of understanding, including the political consultations agreement in 2013, the double taxation avoidance agreement in 2007, and the encouragement and mutual investment protection agreement in 2007.
In a statement to the Qatari Al-Sharq newspaper, the Belgian ambassador to Qatar, Bart De Groof, commended the level of bilateral relations in all fields.
He also praised the visit of His Highness the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani to Belgium, which began yesterday, stressing that the Emir’s visit is a unique and excellent opportunity to evaluate and push forward these outstanding relations between Qatar and Belgium, and to use it as a foundation to make them stronger.
He pointed out that the visit will witness the signing of memorandums of understanding and agreements in many fields, pointing out that his country was the first European country to sign the LNG import agreement with Qatar in 2006, stressing that the State of Qatar is the main supplier to the latest liquefied natural gas station in Zeebrugge, a gateway to supply LNG to Northwestern Europe.
Belgium currently imports gas from Qatar under two 20-year-long contracts.
Zeebrugge still has the potential to import more liquefied natural gas (LNG), which is increasingly used in the transport sector.
The Belgian ambassador noted that LNG will be an important element in energy in the future, given the efforts of EU member states, including Belgium, to reduce carbon emissions.
The demand for Qatari gas will continue to grow, as Belgium is not only supplying it locally but also supplying neighbouring countries thanks to the very wide gas pipeline network.
He pointed out that Belgium is the third largest partner of Qatar in Europe and there were trade missions that visited Qatar, noting that its largest trade mission to Qatar was the business and trade delegation in 2015, headed by the brother of the King of Belgium.
This gave a huge boost to bilateral relations, he added.
The ambassador also highlighted his country’s major exports such as machinery, transport materials and chemical products, stressing that Belgium is fully aware of the new opportunities being opened in Qatar thanks to the Qatari Government’s policy of encouraging foreign direct investment as well as towards achieving self-sufficiency.
De Groof said Belgium is an ideal country for investments because of its open economy and ease of doing business as well as its geographical location, along with excellent transport by air, sea, railways, roads and pipelines, thus making it an ideal centre for distributing products and services throughout Europe.
Co-operation between the State of Qatar and the Kingdom of Belgium was not limited to economic and political aspects.
In education, Qatar University, represented by the Qatar Transportation and Traffic Safety Center, and the Transportation Research Institute at the Hasselt University in Belgium signed a co-operation agreement in transport and traffic safety.
The institute, one of the largest research institutes in Belgium, carries out research in transportation, traffic safety and sustainable tourism, in co-operation with several governmental, regional and international bodies.
It also supervises many undergraduate and postgraduate students in transportation at the Hasselt University.
The collaboration with Hasselt University Transportation Research Institute is part of the active international activities that the centre is developing to establish novel and sound research programmes that yield to economically feasible, socially viable and environmental friendly solutions to transportation and traffic safety issues in the State of Qatar and the international community.
The agreement aims at enhancing co-operation between Qatar University and Hasselt University.
Kingdom of Belgium
The Kingdom of Belgium is situated in the west of Europe.
Although its area of 30,528sq km makes it a small country, its location has made it the economic and urban nerve centre of Europe.
Brussels is the capital city of Belgium.
It also have the headquarters of the European Union (EU) and of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato). Belgium is a federal constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system of governance.
Belgium is a key international economic player, ranked 13th in the world for both exports and imports by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in 2012.
Moreover, it is one of the most popular countries for investors, attracting billions of euro of foreign direct investment each year.
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