By Marisa Chimprabha
Crown Prince Philippe of Belgium will arrive in Thailand on Sunday, leading a delegation of ministers and hundreds of leading business people to boost economic cooperation, Belgian Ambassador to Thailand Marc Michielsen said yesterday.
The delegation, comprising Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Didier Reynders and other high-ranking officials as well as hundreds of businesspeople representing 105 leading companies, is the biggest since 2001, the envoy said.
The visit from March 17-22 by the crown prince, who is also chairman of the Belgian Foreign Trade Board, is aimed at strengthening relations and enhancing cooperation on trade and investment between Bangkok and Brussels.
In 2011, Thailand ranked 41st in the league table of Belgium’s main clients and Belgian exports to Thailand amounted to Euro 995.9 million (Bt38.41 billion) compared with Euro 803.7 million in 2010. Meanwhile regarding imports, Thailand was Belgium’s 37th supplier in 2011 while Belgian imports from Thailand grew by 9.1 per cent, from Euro 1.0571 billion in 2010 to Euro 1.1531 billion in 2011.
Of about 23,000 companies listed in the Belgian Foreign Trade Agency, about 1,100 export to Thailand. Another 1,783 companies have shown a particular interest in the Thai market.
Michielsen said that during the visit, economic seminars focusing on alternative and clean energy, healthcare, medical supplies, agricultural industry, food, infrastructure and logistics would be held.
Belgium believes that the two countries could cooperate and invest more in those fields, he said. Brussels sees Thailand as a regional hub in many fields, which he could see for himself, as although he is based in Bangkok, he also oversees Belgian affairs in Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar.
The crown prince will also visit the Map Ta Phut Industrial Estate in Rayong province, which houses many Belgian companies and plants.
The Belgian royal couple will be granted an audience with His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej on March 22. Michielsen said Princess Mathilde would also attend several activities to promote the role of women in society and business. She will also meet leading Thai businesswomen and representatives of international organisations.