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Government announcement
March 16, 2018

Modernizing and diversifying our partnerships with Belgium


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Record Belgian delegation in Québec

MONTRÉAL, March 16, 2018 – Yesterday and today, Premier Philippe Couillard hosted a political, institutional and economic delegation of nearly 250 Belgians to Montréal, including Their Majesties the King and Queen of Belgium, the minister-presidents of the federated entities, university rectors and the CEOs of the country’s largest companies. One of the main goals of this state visit was to strengthen trade relations in view of the recent entry into force of the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).

As part of this visit, the Premier attended a presentation on the theme of artificial intelligence for the Digital Spring. In a speech, he spoke about Québec’s ecosystem and Montréal’s leadership in this industry of the future. He also reiterated the importance of addressing ethical and societal issues in this field, referring to the plan to create an international organization in Montréal. An agreement and a joint statement were also signed with the Minister-President of the French Community of Belgium, Rudy Demotte. They undertook to increase mobility between Francophone students in both territories  and promote young peoples’ expertise.

The Premier met with:

  • Their Majesties the King and Queen of Belgium
  • Belgium’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Affairs, Didier Reynders
  • The Secretary of State for Foreign Trade, Pieter De Crem
  • The Minister-President of the French Community of Belgium, Rudy Demotte
  • The Minister-President of Wallonia, Willy Borsus
  • The Minister-President of the Brussels-Capital Region, Rudi Vervoort
  • The Minister-President of Flanders, Geert Bourgeois

They discussed the following subjects in particular:

  • Higher education
  • Digital technology, new technology and artificial intelligence
  • Aeronautics
  • Maritime strategy
  • The Francophonie
  • Preventing radicalization leading to violence

Quotes:

We have a relationship with Belgium that goes back nearly 45 years, and we share a common language and francophone culture. Today, we especially discussed digital technology, new technology and artificial intelligence. We want to modernize this strong relationship that unites us and to work with Belgians to meet the challenges of the 21st century. In fact, 41 agreements will be signed with Québec during this visit, proof that our bonds are multiplying.

– Philippe Couillard, Premier of Québec

For years, Québec has developed and maintained links of cooperation with Belgium and its entities. Today, our many collaborations help us raise Québec’s status around the world, not only economically, but also in the fields of education and culture, whose actors enjoy a strong reputation.

– Christine St-Pierre, Minister of International Relations and La Francophonie

In a global context where new technologies appear in rapid succession, it is essential to forge solid international partnerships, especially in terms of research and collaboration, and to collaborate with societies, like Belgium, that share this desire to define innovation as an economic driver. Indeed, I am convinced that the agreements signed between our respective governments will be a springboard for many promising collaborative projects.

– Dominique Anglade, Deputy Premier, Minister of Economy, Science and Innovation and Minister responsible for the Digital Strategy

Key facts:

  • 51 agreements will be signed during this visit to Canada. Of these, 41 will be signed in Québec, in fields as varied as academic collaboration, agri-food and maritime affairs.
  • In 2017, Belgium was ranked 7th among Québec’s EU trading partners, and 13th among its global trading partners.
  • Since 1972, Québec has had a general delegation in Brussels that represents Québec’s interests and promotes its image in Benelux and with the Institutions of the European Union.
  • The Québec–Wallonia-Brussels Permanent Joint Commission represents the largest institutional collaboration after the Québec-France collaboration.
  • The institutional collaboration between Québec and Flanders will provide financial support to 12 projects for the year 2018-2020.

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