Belgium (Kingdom of)

History of Relations| Diplomatic Representation || Travel Info || Health Requirements || Climate Info || Currency Info || Trade Info || Visits and Meetings || Agreements || Interest Groups/ Organisations

History of Relations

The relations between a part of the present South Africa and Belgium were established in 1875 during a visit of President Thomas Francois Burgers of the South African Republic to Europe. In a letter of 11 February 1876 President Burgers made formal application to the Court of King Leopold II for acceptance of a representative, and four days later the Royal Exequatur was issued. Simultaneously a Brussels advocate, Gustave Biebuyck, was appointed as Consul. His major mission was implementation of a trade agreement, which was concluded simultaneously, and he was instructed to supervise the conclusion of an order for the delivery of a railway line between Pretoria and Delagoa Bay.

After many problems, (especially regarding the railway where both German and Dutch interests were at stake), compounded by local rivalries for the post, on 12 June 1889 a Consul-General was appointed in the person of Mr AG van Deth, a Brussels merchant. He served in this capacity until obliged on 20 January 1903 by the terms of the Treaty of Vereeniging, to close the Consulate, after which Great Britain handled consular and diplomatic affairs.

The next era started after Union in 1910 with the establishment of Belgian/South African diplomatic relations handled by the British representative in Belgium.

Only in 1934 were direct relations established between Belgium and the Union, when Dr HD van Broekhuyzen, accredited at that time in the Netherlands, was also appointed as representative to Belgium.

On 27 February 1939 Mr GP Jooste was appointed Chargé d'Affaires en titre in Brussels and thus for the first time there was a representative of the Union of South Africa based in Brussels.

During the Second World War representation was handled from London. After the War representation in Belgium was handled from The Hague.

Dr PR Botha was appointed in 1949, resident in Brussels and for the first time ambassadorial status was given to the post. He stayed in Brussels until 1955.

In the intervening period diplomatic relations were also established with the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, and the South African Ambassador in Brussels is now also simultaneously accredited to Luxembourg on a non-residential basis. The Ambassador to Belgium was also accredited as the Ambassador to the European Communities from 1 July 1963 to 15 July 1971.

In 1971 a separate South African Mission to the European Communities (now European Union) was established with the specific purpose of representing South Africa's interests with the European Union. On 26 July 1971 Ambassador WC Naudé was accredited as Head of Mission to the European Communities. He was succeeded by a series of Ambassadors until Dr E Links was appointed as Head of the South African Mission to the European Union, in mid-1996. The Embassy merged again in 1998.

Relations between Belgium and South Africa during the 1980s were strained due to the internal political situation in South Africa.

Relations post 1994

The changes in South Africa from 2 February 1990 brought about an easing of this tension and permitted a visit to Brussels by President FW de Klerk during May 1990. During the period of the negotiations leading to the adoption of the Interim (1994 - 96) Constitution the relations showed a consistent positive growth. Since April 1994 a new era has dawned in relations between the two countries, President Mbeki and Prime Minister Verhofstadt met each other twice during 2001 and numerous Ministers, including both Foreign Ministers, have visited the two countries to further consolidate relations.

This relationship has not only manifested itself in the growing closer bilateral ties between the two countries but also in regular dialogue and co-operation on global issues such as the World Conference Against Racism (WCAR) [Belgium was the first EU member state to promulgate anti-discrimination legislation after the Conference] and the World Summit on Sustainable Development  (WSSD).

Trade and Investment

Regarding economic relations, in recent years Belgium has remained South Africa’s 6th largest trading partner, and 8th fastest growing export destination. According to South African trade statistics for 2005, South African exports were valued at R8, 97 billion and imports from Belgium at R4, 77 billion. Main export products from South Africa to Belgium include rough diamonds, iron, fresh fruit, bituminous coal, other ores; and manganese dioxide. Value-added exports primarily include automotive components, catalytic converters, as well as transport containers and parts and accessories thereof. Belgium is among the top ten investors from the EU.

Diplomatic Representation

South African Representation in Belgium

H E Mr B Sanqu
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary

South African Embassy to the Kingdom of Belgium, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and Mission to the European Union

H E Mr A K Bramdeo
Ambassador of the African Union to the European Union and ACP Group of States

Belgium Representation in South Africa

H E Mr H R G Cooreman
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary

Pretoria Embassy

Travel Info

Visa Requirements for South Africans

For more information contact the Embassy of Belgium in Pretoria or visit the web site of the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Health Requirements

No specific immunisation is required. A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required from travellers coming from an infected area.

For further information go to Travelers' Health.

Climate Info

A temperate climate with an average of almost 210 days of rain per year.

For up-to-date weather information click here.

Currency Info

The euro.

For current exchange rates click here.

State and Official Visits / Bilateral Meetings

President Mbeki and Prime Minister Verhofstadt met each other twice during 2001.

President T. Mbeki visited Belgium in November 2004.

The first meeting of the Joint Commission between South Africa and the Kingdom of Belgium was held on 10 November 2006, in Brussels, thus implementing the Joint Declaration signed between the two countries during the official visit of President Mbeki to Belgium in 2004.
The Second Meeting of the JC was held in October 2007.

There have also been numerous Ministerial visits between South Africa and Belgium.

Bilateral Agreements

If you have any queries with regard to treaties please contact the Treaty Section at 012 351 0892/0742 or send an e-mail to:

Trade Statistics

For current information on trade statistics between South Africa and Belgium, visit the web site of the Department of Trade and Industry of South Africa.

Interest Groups and Information

Federation of Belgian Industry
Ravensteinstraat 4
Tel : 02/515 08 11
Fax : 02/515 09 99
(FBI is a founding member of the UNICE at European level and a member of the BIAC at OECD level)

VEV (Vlaams Ekonomisch Verbond)
Afgevaardigd Beheerder
Brouwersvliet 5 Bus 4
Tel : 03/231 1660
Fax : 03/233 76 60

National Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Belgium
Avenue des Arts 1-2
Tel : 02/217 36 71
Fax : 02/217 46 34

Belgian Foreign Trade Office
General Manager
WTC Tower 1
Boulevard Emile Jacqmain 162 box 36
Tel : 02/206 35 11
Fax : 02/203 18 12

Flemish Foreign Trade Board
Koningstraat 80
Tel : 02/504 87 11
Fax : 02/504 88 99

Dare-Awex (French speaking Foreign Trade Board)
Area Coordinator
Avenue des Arts 13-14
Tel : 02/211 55 11
Fax : 02/211 55 70

Director of International Relations Department
Rue des Drapiers 21
Tel : 02/510 24 67
Fax : 02/510 25 64
(The Federation of manufacturers in the engineering industry plays an important part in the Belgian economy where this industry represents 240 000 jobs, 33% of the Belgian-Luxembourg Economic Union's exports and 26% of total gross industrial product).

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2003 Department of Foreign Affairs, Republic of South Africa