Côte d’Ivoire receives important Belgian delegation led by Princess Astrid
(Ecofin Agency) - Since last October 22, 2017, a Belgian economic delegation is in Cote d’Ivoire, in the framework of a 5-day visit aiming to officially “strengthen cooperation” between the two countries.
Led by Princess Astrid, this delegation comprises many officials but also a group of 134 Belgian heads of companies.
The current mission should allow Belgian economic operators explore the various opportunities that some Ivorian economic sectors have to offer. Among these, mining and industry, infrastructure, agriculture, health, construction, digital, etc.
In this regards, many Belgian companies, of which BIA Group and ALM industry, should officialize their establishment in Côte d’Ivoire. This is in addition to the signing of many bilateral agreements and conventions.
It should be noted that from 1996 to 2010, Belgium was Ivory Coast’s fourth largest investor, having injected CFA42.9 billion (about €65.4 million) in the West African economy. This represents various investments made by already established firms like SeaInvest, SOCFIN, SIAT, SIPEF, Brussels Airline, Zetes, etc.
Since 2011, many other Belgian firms have established or reestablished themselves in the country. These include NHV Group, IAPS, Tractebel Engineering, AfricaTrucks, SMT and Ogepar. Subsequently, Belgium became in 2012, the third largest foreign investor of Côte d’Ivoire.
However, from 2014 to 2016, Belgian direct investments stood at, according to the Ivorian investment promotion Centre (CEPICI), CFA6.35 billion only (about €9.9 million), making Belgium drop back to the fifth position in the ranking of European investors active in Ivory Coast.
In terms of trade, overall exchanges between the two countries soared from CFA298 billion (about €454.3 million) in 2012, to CFA514 billion (about €783.6 million) in 2016, thus a 72% increase in four years.
Regarding bilateral cooperation, Belgium has cancelled on October 2, 2012, the Ivorian bilateral debt which amounted to €202.7 million (about CFA133 billion). This, as a result of the Debt Relief Under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative.
The Ivorian Vice President, Danial Kablan Duncan, declared: “Despite the strengthening of economic ties between our two countries, these exchanges, according to us, are still far below our true potential and ambitions”. “We must therefore engage and multiply mutually beneficial innovative initiatives to boost our cooperation bringing it to the level of the economic and business expectations of Belgium and Côte d’Ivoire which does not lack investment projects,” the official added.
It should be recalled that Côte d’Ivoire and Belgium’s diplomatic relationship goes way back to March 15, 1961.