The signing of a major contract between Qatar Petroleum and the LNG terminal in the port of Zeebrugge, operated by Fluxys, served as a highlight of Qatar and Belgium’s excellent bilateral relations, Belgian ambassador Bart De Groof has said.
“Qatar will use the full capacity of the terminal until the year 2044 at least. This is a major confirmation of the place Belgium is playing in the distribution of Qatari LNG, as the main gateway to Northwest Europe,” the envoy said in his speech at the Belgian King’s Day, held on Thursday at Marsa Malaz Kempinski at The Pearl-Qatar.
He noted that the contract is also an important policy statement on energy for both countries.
According to De Groof, Qatar embarked on what he described as a dynamic programme of diversification of its markets while Belgium is revising its energy generation mix with gas being an important role in the drive towards clean energy.
“With the present contract, Qatar and Belgium enter a win-win partnership,” he stressed.
As a follow up to the visit of His Highness the Amir to Belgium last year, De Groof said several Belgian companies and trade delegations visited Qatar this year, and about 30 Belgian companies are active in Qatar.
He cited the many contributions that Belgium companies. These include those responsible for the shaping and deepening of the access canals to the ports, making it possible for larger vessels to call on Hamad Port and for cruise ships to use the terminal at Doha Port.
“These companies, De Groof said, are a tribute to the great Belgium expertise in these technical sectors and it is an honour for Belgium to be part of Qatari projects,” De Groof said.
“The same goes for every one of our 700 or so Belgian citizens, which are very much part of the Qatari story, in maritime and naval engineering, dredging, building construction, sports, in science and development, in the service industry and so forth,” he noted.
Meanwhile, at the political level, the envoy said they look forward to their next bilateral consultations as he cited the two countries’ have remained strong partners in the fight against terrorism.
He said the many academic, cultural and sports exchanges between our two countries are firmly in place, and the trade volume between the two countries remains at a solid €300mn, making Belgium Qatar’s third biggest client in Europe.
The envoy also echoed the statement of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani during the Shura Council session last week citing the significant contributions of foreign workers in the development of the country.
“This appreciation is reflected in the technical co-operation and programme between Qatar and the International Labour Organisation (ILO), which is now 2 years-old,” De Groof said.
Only last week, he said the European Union (EU) published a statement acknowledging the important labour reforms made by Qatar such as the abolishing of the exit permit, the no objection certificates, and the draft legislation on minimum wages.
“These reforms are first in the region, have not gone unnoticed,” the envoy said.
“We are also pleased that the EU is interacting with Qatar more than ever through the co-operation agreement, through the external action service, and the human rights dialogue, the next round which will be taking place in Brussels at the end of this month,” he said.
“It is a special honour for Belgium that our Queen Mathilde is working side by side with Her Highness Sheikha Moza as United Nations advocates for the Sustainable Development Goals,” De Groof said.
Sports infrastructure trade delegation visits Qatar
The preparations for the 2022 FIFA World Cup are well under way and Belgian companies are making a contribution to this, participating in the construction of the Al Khalifa and Al Wakrah stadium, with Belgian expertise in sports technologies, according to Belgian ambassador Bart De Groof.
A specialised sports infrastructure trade delegation visited Qatar this year, the envoy said.
“We note with interest the ambition of the Supreme Committee to make 2020 a Carbon Neutral event and Belgian companies stand ready to offer their expertise in this field as well,” he noted.