Would you like to know more about the Belgian Chambers abroad? And, what exactly is a bilateral chamber? How do they support you in your international activities? Bilateral chambers and commercial attachés, what’s the difference? Wouter Van Gulck, General Manager of the Federation, takes us for a tour.
What exactly does the network of bilateral chambers represent? And who are these chambers?
The network of bilateral chambers consists of 33 accredited Belgian-Luxembourg Chambers of Commerce abroad. Together they cover 131 countries. Some chambers are only active in part of a country, such as Northern France or Catalonia. Others, on the contrary, cover several countries (for example the Arab countries or Central America), or even the entire African continent. They are different in terms of size and services offered, but they have a common characteristic: they are associations of private members which help Belgian companies to export and invest abroad.
What role do these bilateral chambers play?
They contribute to the promotion of Belgium’s economic and commercial interests abroad. For companies wishing to enter a new market, they are often a first point of contact, but they also bring together Belgian companies already present in their country of activity. The fact that the local and bilateral chambers are members of the Federation means that they exchange and cooperate on an ongoing basis. Like the local chambers, the bilateral chambers must also meet a number of accreditation criteria in order to be a member of the Federation.
What is the difference between bilateral chambers and regional trade attachés?
In my opinion, they are complementary. Trade attachés help in the search for business partners and can open doors with the government. The bilateral chambers are made up of businessmen and women who know what it means to run a business abroad. They offer you space for reflection and practical advice. In addition, they provide concrete services that make it easier to set up a business in a country.
What services are we talking about?
The range of services is very wide and varies from one chamber to another. Some chambers organise trade missions, “Belgian weeks” and stands at trade fairs. Other chambers offer more personalised services for prospecting trips and participation in trade fairs. Other services include assistance with visa procedures and translations. Some chambers offer the possibility of a domiciliation, help in setting up a branch or legal advice, assistance in finding staff and salary administration. Each chamber has its own specificity.
How can companies contact them?
A Belgian company wishing to contact a bilateral chamber can first check with its local chamber whether the bilateral chamber in question is accredited and the type of services offered. They can also consult our page on Chambers abroad where you will find an overview of the chambers with their contact details and a list of their services. Our brochure is also available online.