India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first visit to Brussels has put the spotlight on multiple dimensions of New Delhi’s relationship with Belgium. India seeks to leverage its interests with Belgium being the second largest trading partner in the 28-member EU bloc after Germany. The bilateral trade stands at around $16 billion. Mr Modi is scheduled to meet Belgium’s Prime Minister Charles Michel on March 30. The visit comes a week after multiple explosions killed at least 35 people and injured over 300 in Brussels on March 22.
In a statement before leaving for Belgium, Mr Modi had said, “No words are enough to salute the resilience and spirit of the people of Belgium. We stand shoulder to shoulder with them in the wake of the horrific attacks in Brussels and share the grief of those who lost their loved ones.”
Why Belgium matters to India?
India is Belgium’s second largest export destination after the US outside of the EU. Most of this is trade in diamonds. In fact, more than 80 per cent of bilateral trade is in diamonds. Almost 84 per cent of the world’s rough diamonds pass through Antwerp in Belgium. Antwerp is the world’s largest diamond trading centre with a turnover of over $54 billion. Indian traders own a large part of this diamond trade in Antwerp and Mr Modi will hold a meeting with the diamond trading community of Antwerp.
In the wake of recent terror attacks, counter-terrorism will also be a crucial area of focus. New Delhi seeks to enhance cooperation in area of counter-terrorism.
Here are some of the highlights of India-Belgium relations:
- Belgium is India’s second largest trading partner in the EU after Germany.
- India is Belgium’s second largest export destination after the United States outside of the EU.
- Antwerp is today the world’s largest diamond trading centre with a turnover of over $54 billion.
- More than 80 per cent of bilateral trade is of diamonds.
- Belgium has a sizeable Indian diaspora of about 20,000 people.
- Belgium has a strong high-tech export oriented economy where 75 per cent of the economy is contributed by the services sector.
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