No less than 402 representatives of Belgian companies and organizations are on an economic mission in the United Kingdom from Sunday to Thursday, in the wake of Princess Astrid, among others. One in five companies participating in the mission are active in the agri-food sector. The United Kingdom clearly remains an important market for the Belgian food industry, agriculture and horticulture and for the floriculture sector.
Since Brexit in 2021, there have been regular tensions between Brussels and London. For example, EC drove a wedge with France over fishing rights, and the European Commission and the British government are persistently arguing over the protocol for Northern Ireland in the divorce treaty, which introduced Customs and product controls between the British Isles and Northern Ireland. It was therefore up to our country to wait and see how relations with the UK would be redefined, with the Belgian side mainly striving for a relaunch of relations.
The UK has historically been an important trading partner for our country, and continues to be so today. It is the largest non-EU trading partner and is the fifth customer (worth 26.2 billion euros) and eighth supplier (15.5 billion euros), with its main sectors being chemicals, transport equipment, machinery and food products. In addition, the UK is also in the top five largest foreign investors in Belgium.