Prince Leads Russian Trade Delegation

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More than 400 representatives from 210 companies will accompany the prince. The delagation includes acting Foreign Minister Stephen Vanackere, the economy ministers of the Brussels capital region and Wallonia, Benoit Cerexhe and Jean-Claude Marcourt, and the general director of the Flemish agency for international business.

The trip starts with a visit to Skolkovo, where the prince will meet Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov, Minister of Economic Development Elvira Nabiullina and Minister of Industry and Trade Viktor Khristenko, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin and the top managers from Gazprom and Lukoil. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev will receive Philippe tomorrow in Moscow.

“We hope that after these negotiations, the doors to cooperation will open even wider,” said the prince’s adviser and director general for the Foreign Trade Agency, Marc Bogaerts. “Relations with Russia as a member of the expanding economies known as the BRICs are very important for us.”

The Belgian delegation intends to focus on the cooperation with Moscow and plans to hold joint seminars on medicine and transport.

Belgium also has strong ties with Russia in the space industry and the crown prince will give Belgian and international awards to four Russian cosmonauts Sergei Zaletin, Valery Korzun, Gennady Padalka and Roman Romanenko in Moscow.

This Wednesday the delegation will travel by the Sapsan high-speed train to St Petersburg, where a car manufacturing contract will be signed.

Prince Philippe’s wife Princess Mathilde will also visit the Hermitage State Museum and the Petropavlovskaya Fortress in Russia’s second city.

Acting Prime Minister Yves Leterme and Medvedev reached an agreement on Philippe’s visit in Russia during Medvedev’s visit to Brussels late last year. “We are firmly convinced that this visit is timely,” said Leterme. “Many Belgian enterprises have invested and continue to invest in Russia’s economy, thus showing an interest in President Medvedev’s policy aimed at modernization of the Russian Federation.”

Bilateral trade reached €10 billion last year and the trade mission hopes to improve connections in the construction, hydrocarbon supplies, high technologies and chemical industries.