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25September2017

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Belgium

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The Historical ties between the two countries runs even further.

belgium

• Earliest contact between the two countries was when Belgian priests and nuns played an important role in missionary work in Ceylon. From the 17th century, they were dedicated to teaching, in addition to being involved in religious activities. As early as 1620, Nicolao Paludano from Liège, spent most of his life in pastoral work in Jaffna and is said to have been fluent in the Tamil language. The Oblate Fathers of Our Lady were also very active in Colombo and Jaffna, and the Franciscan Sisters and the Sisters of Charity from Ghent, did their activities in many other places. Mother Solange from Huy was the founder of the 'Teacher Training College of Bolawalana'. In 1862, the Papal Seminary in Kandy was also entrusted to the Belgian Jesuits. This seminary trained priests from 9 ecclesiastical provinces of India and Ceylon.

• In 1893, the Catholic Diocese of Galle was established by Belgian Jesuits. Monsignor Joseph Van Reeth from Antwerp was the first Bishop of Galle from 1895 to 1923. Belgian Jesuits founded the leading boys school St. Aloysius' College Galle and Sisters of Charity from Brussels founded Sacred Heart Convent Galle, leading girls school in 1896. 5 Belgian nuns started the school with Mother Mary William. The nuns introduced lace making and embroidery as a cottage industry to the women of Galle.

• Earliest recorded political contact was when during his voyage to the Far-East King Leopold II, then the Duke of Brabant, visited Ceylon in 1864, one year before he ascended the throne. He toured the island for 16 days and visited, among other places, Galle, Colombo and Kandy. He had the honour of inaugurating the railway line from Veyangoda to Ambepussa. He also visited the Ramboda waterfalls and the famous Botanical Gardens of Peradeniya.

• In 1911, Dr. Kamiel Vermoesen, Professor of Natural Science at the University of Leuven, visited Sri Lanka, on behalf of the Belgium Government, to study tropical plant diseases, mainly in the coffee plantations. He stayed in Sri Lanka for one year in Peradeniya.

• In 1925, King Albert I and Queen Elisabeth visited the Papal Seminary in Kandy which was administered by Belgian Jesuit Priests. During this visit King Albert I planted a tree 'Amherstia Nobilis' ( Pride of Burma) at the Royal Botanical Gardens, Peradeniya. This tree, has presently flourished into a spectacular specimen, with a height of about 15 metres1.

 

plant

• A Sri Lankan also owns the only existing Belgian 'Pipe ' car remaining in the world. Available in Colombo since 1914, it is in perfect condition.

Post Independence Relations
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Diplomatic relations between Sri Lanka and Belgium was established in 1953 and the Sri Lanka Embassy in Brussels was established in July 1973. The Embassy is supported by an Hony. Consul of Sri Lanka in Antwerp, which position has been held by Ms. Monique de Decker Deprez, since, 1997.

H.E Mr. Rodney Perera, the Ambassador presented his letter of Credence to King Philippe of Belgium on 17 October 2014. He succeeded H.E Mr. P. M Amza.

The Belgian Embassy in New Delhi is concurrently accredited to cover the diplomatic relations with Sri Lanka, while Belgium has also appointed an Honorary Consul in Colombo.

In March 2001 President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga visited Belgium and had an audience with His Majesty King Albert II. She also met Hon. Guy Verhofstadt, Prime Minister of Belgium.

There had been several high level visits between the two countries.

Agreements

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• Agreement on Development Cooperation in March 1977.

• Agreement on Investment Protection Agreement in April 1982.

• Avoidance of Double Taxation Agreement in February 1983.

• Air Transport Agreement in December 1998

• In March 2001 two agreements were signed to promote investment and to strengthen bilateral cooperation in the fields of technology and financial assistance.

• The Belgium Corporation for International Investment (SBI), the Belgium Institution especially set up to encourage Small Scale & Medium Industrial Investment in other countries entered into an agreement with the National Development Bank (NDB) and the Development Finance Corporation of Ceylon (DFCC) - the two major development banks in Sri Lanka. An agreement was also signed in 2001 by the two parties in order to enable financial cooperation in the field of investment.

• Agreement on Maritime Transport between the Government of Sri Lanka and Belgium in October, 2003.

Sri Lanka and Belgium also have signed a number of 'specific agreements' aimed at operationalizing short term projects.

Bilateral cooperation

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Contribution of Finexpo for projects in Sri Lanka

Since 2007 several Belgian companies have proposed equipment in different sectors and they have received positive reactions from their counterparts in Sri Lanka. In the same time the Belgian authorities agreed to offer soft loan credit to allow the implementation of projects which contribute to the development of Sri Lanka. The soft loan instrument allows the authorities of Sri Lanka to only reimburse the credit granted by a Belgian bank for the implementation of the project without paying any interest rate linked to this capital. This advantage is in line with the OECD rules and represents in net present value a gift element of 35% of the bank credit.

Tied aid projects introduced to Finexpo:

Tied aid projects introduced to Finexpo:

1. Balangoda – Kolonna Water Supply Project
• Contract amount : 10.354.500€

2. Monaragala & Badula Areas Water Supply
• Contract amount : 23.980.000€

3. Rehabilitation of 6 steel railway bridges
• Contract amount : 4.379.966€

4. Port – Tracking Communication
Contract amount: 18.000.000€

Total Euro 56.7 Million

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The Ducroire/Delcredere SA.NV (ONDD), in November 2010, revised Sri Lanka's short term political risk categorization from 5 to 3, which is favourable. see http://www.ducroiredeicredere.be

The travel advisory published by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belgium on Sri Lanka was positively revised in January 2013 and has encouraged Belgians to visit Sri Lanka.

Cooperation in Countering Terrorism is an important aspect in bilateral cooperation between Belgium and Sri Lanka. The Mission work closely with the Belgian Foreign Ministry, its Counter Terrorism Coordinator, and the Belgian Federal Police (BFP) for country action. Sri Lankan authorities have also cooperated with the BFP in investigations. In March 2011, consultations were also held in Brussels between the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka and the Financial Intelligence Unit of Belgium.

In 2012, Vlaamse Interuniversitare Raad (Flemish Inter-University Council) of Belgium resumed their University Development Corporation (UOS) scholarship programme for Sri Lanka which had been suspended in 2007. Through this programme Sri Lankan students will annually receive scholarships to follow Masters & Ph.D. level study programs in some of the prestigious Belgian Universities including Katholieke University of Leuven and the University of Ghent.

Trade

Sri Lanka Exports, Imports, Total Trade and Balance of trade with Belgium

Sri Lanka’s trade with Belgium has been fluctuated during the recent past. The total trade turnover, which stood at US $ 683.39 million in 2013, has decreased by 38.26 % to reach US $ 421.91 million in 2014. Sri Lanka has enjoyed a favorable balance of trade with Belgium over the past ten years.

Value in US$ Mn.

Year

Exports

Imports

Total Trade Turnover

Trade Balance

2005

258.41

242.87

501.28

  15.55

2006

338.36

243.39

581.76

  94.97

2007

407.45

220.3

627.76

187.15

2008

409.72

333.41

743.12

  76.31

2009

367.90

256.68

624.58

111.21

2010

386.12

259.24

645.36

126.88

2011

546.14

405.43

951.57

140.70

2012

463.96

362.41

826.37

101.55

2013

463.37

220.02

683.39

243.34

2014

318.43

103.48

421.91

214.95

2015 Jan – June

143.23

107.79

251.02

35.44

 

 

      

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source:  Sri Lanka Customs 

Exports

Sri Lanka’s total exports to Belgium have been also fluctuated during the recent years and in 2011 recorded the highest value of total exports, US $ 546.14 million. Thereafter, it was recorded a steady level. Apparel has been the main item of exports from Sri Lanka to Belgium, which accounts for 51.55% of the total value of Sri Lanka’s exports to Belgium in 2014 and which followed Diamonds accounting 16.95% of total exports to Belgium. 

Imports

Total value of imports from Belgium has shown a fluctuating trend during the last few years. Diamonds is the major import product has accounted for 31.54% of the value of total imports from Belgium in 2014. The other major items that Sri Lanka has been importing from Belgium include organic chemicals, plastics, medicaments, iron or steel and its articles and unmanufactured tobacco; tobacco refuse, etc.

Investments from Belgium 

Belgian companies have invested in diverse areas such as diamond cutting, manufacturing of jewelry, rubber based products, coir products, food processing, IT, and Tobacco processing.

Belgium

Total Foreign Direct Investment (US$ Mil.)

2005

8.4

2006

8.1

2007

13.9

2008

13.4

2009

2.9

2010

2.9

2011

15.8

2012

3.4

2013

8.1

2014

3.9

2015

5.9

Leading Belgian companies operating in Sri Lanka include:

       Loadstar (Pvt) Ltd –  Solid rubber based products/ solid tires

       United Tobacco Proc. (Pvt) Ltd – Tobacco processing

      
Blanka Diamond Ltd

       Abandiam (Pvt) Ltd

       Colandiam (Pvt) LTd                                             

       Lydies Diamonds (Pvt) Ltd                                    

       De Saedeleer Arts & Creations (Pvt) Ltd

       Blue Diamond

      
Samtessi Brush Manf. (Pvt) Ltd                             

       Inter Brush Lanka Ltd                                            

       Doit-E Lanka (Pvt) Ltd

      
Ecode Lanka Software (Pvt) Ltd

       Julia Lanka  (Pvt) Ltd                                          

       Unilink Intl. (Pvt) Ltd

Sri Lankan Community in Belgium

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It is estimated that presently approximately 800 Sri Lankans live in Belgium.

All Sri Lankans interested to participate in national events and receive updated information may send their contacts.

Contact us

 

 

 

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Rue Jules Lejeune 27
1050 Brussels
Belgium.