Belgium–Ukraine relations are foreign relations between Belgium and Ukraine. Diplomatic relations were established in 1992. Belgium has an embassy in Kiev; Ukraine has an embassy in Brussels and two honorary consulates (in Antwerp and Mons). Although politically the two nations are not closely connected, they have a long history of economic integration and trade, with Belgian investment playing a role in the contemporary Ukrainian economy.
Trade links between Kievan Rus' and Flanders and what is now Belgium were established as early as the 11th century. By 1600, trade between the two regions had developed fully, particularly that of textiles and jewellery. Merchants from Kiev arrived in Flanders with furs and purchased textiles. In return merchants transported wool and amber jewellery to Lviv in exchange of furs, silk and oriental seasoning.
At the turn of the 20th century, Belgian manufacturers played a major role in the industrial growth of Ukraine. The first lines of the electric tramway in Kiev and Odessa were constructed by the Belgian company “Tractebel”. This company is still active in the Ukrainian infrastructure.
Traditional ties between the two regions have continued and trade and economic cooperation between Ukraine and Belgium has continued to develop. Between 1999 and 2003 the bulk of exports to Ukraine doubled, with the Belgian Agency for Foreign Trade figures revealing an increase again in 2004 by 23.47% and amounted to 209,872 million euros.
Although textile trading has declined in significance, the industrial relationship between the regions, especially in the manufacturing sector, is a major one. As of 2008 trade between the two nations accounted for US$ 1 billion. Ukraine is a notable exporter to Belgium of precious metals and minerals, oil products and chemicals whilst Belgium is a major supplier to Ukraine of machines, industrial and electrotechnical equipment, chemicals, rubber, and also certain metals. The nations are also connected in the beer industry, with the Belgian brewing company Interbrew having a share of 34.3% in the Ukrainian beer market, thanks to its cooperation with the Ukrainian brewers of Chernigiv, Kharkiv and Mykolaiv. General Belgian investments in the economy of Ukraine had grown rapidly and as of July 2008, some US$ 44 million was put in the Ukrainian economy by Belgian investors, with 31.5% into wholesale trade, 16% into transport and communications, 15% into the food-processing industry (15%) and 13% into mechanical engineering respectively. A number of Ukrainian companies are primarily financed by Belgian investment.
In October 2008, the two nations became further integrated in the agricultural sector too when Belgian firm Rattlerow Seghers and Ukrainian Elita Farms signed an agreement to develop pig production in Ukraine. Rattlerow Seghers delivered the first shipment breeding stock consisting of 192 pigs from Belgium to Elita Farms in Ukraine in January 2009. Rattlerow Seghers had exported the first breeding animals to Ukraine in 2004 and pigs have been successfully marketed using Belgian stock since the beginning of 2005, witnessing a growing demand and pressure to run larger pig farms in the country. The agreement in 2009 was made after close negotiations between the government institutes of both countries and important figures in the agricultural sector, both politically through representation and within the industry itself. Notable figures in the agreement included the Minister of Agriculture of Ukraine, Melnik Yuriy Fedorovych. The agreement not only supplies breeding stock but also expert knowledge from Belgium and training programs to enhance the efficiency of the Ukrainian pig industry and facilitate growth and production after a period of economic decline.
Belgium became connected diplomatically with Ukraine at the beginning of the Soviet Union around 1919, but since the Declaration of State Sovereignty of Ukraine in 1991 new relations have been established since March 10, 1992. Belgium along with other European states formally recognised the independence of Ukraine on 31 December 1991. Leonid Kravchuk, the first president of an independent modern Ukraine, paid a diplomatic visit to Brussels in July 1992. On a parliamentary level, both Ukraine and Belgium have deputies and ambassadors functioning in the parliaments of both countries. Aside from national political connections, there are ties at a city level, particularly between the capitals of Kiev and Brussels and the twin cities of Donetsk and Charleroi, but also regionally between the Poltava region and Hainaut province. About 4,000 people involved in bilateral relations between Ukraine and Belgium.
In 2008 Belgium and Ukraine delegates including the Minister of Economic Affairs of Ukraine, Bohdan Danylyshyn, and the Minister for Belgian Enterprises, Vincent Van Kikenborn, met at the Ukrainian-Belgian Intergovernmental Joint Commission to discuss problems of bilateral trade, economic and financial relations between the two nations focusing on a 1997 treaty. In the meeting Danylyshyn revealed that Ukraine considers Belgian investment and the wider European Union alliance as of major importance to the Ukrainian economy as it becomes integrated in the world market. During the meeting, new investment projects were discussed into various sectors of the economy and the further development of transport industry, logistics, agriculture and tourism. Mutual obligations to comply to fossil fuel targets, energy conservation and the need to increase the use of alternative sources of energy between the two nations within the wider global framework were also discussed.
On March 23, 2009. Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko and Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko travelled to Brussels for an international investment conference to discuss the modernisation of Ukraine's gas transit system and supplies.
Expositions are regularly held in the most esteemed galleries of Brussels and other major Belgian cities, and Ukrainian artwork (both sculpture and painting) has a considerable following in Belgium. In regard to music, the National Symphonic Orchestra of Ukraine, Orchestra of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Military Band of the Southern Operational Command HQ of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, and various Kiev based choirs and orchestras such as Kyiv Classic Orchestra regularly perform in Belgium. In addition the Academic Symphonic Orchestra of the National Philharmonic of Ukraine was conducted by the Belgian conductor Ronald Zollman. On April 4, 2009 a gala concert by the Academic Symphonic Orchestra of the National Philharmonic of Ukraine was held in Kiev to commemorate 60 years of NATO. Organized by the NATO Information and Documentation Centre (NIDC) in conjunction with the embassies of Belgium and Slovakia, the Belgian Ambassador Mark Vinck spoke out at the event and the importance of music in good international relations, noting that the anniversary was “a timely occasion to recall the Alliance’s major contribution to peace and security in Europe and in the wider world, and to stress how much important it is to continue to strengthen the relations with Ukraine, but also to develop good relations with all neighboring countries.”
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