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Belgian royal leads trade mission after stalled EU deal

Princess Astrid of Belgium has met Governor-General David Hurley in Sydney at the start of a week-long trade mission to Australia.

Princess Astrid of Belgium mis welcomed by Australia’s Governor General David Hurley during a meeting at Admiralty House in Sydney, Monday, October 23, 2023.

A Belgian princess has been welcomed by the governor-general as she leads the European nation's first economic mission to Australia in more than a decade.

Princess Astrid of Belgium, the second child of Belgium's King Albert II and Queen Paola, on Monday met with Governor-General David Hurley at Admiralty House in Kirribilli to launch the week-long visit.

The delegation, which includes Belgian Foreign Affairs Minister Hadja Lahbib, comes after talks on a free trade agreement between Australia and the European Union stalled earlier this year.

Negotiations over a deal broke down after more than a dozen rounds of talks, which reached a sticking point over issues including better market access for Australian agricultural products.

The trade delegation representing more than 100 Belgian companies is also due to visit Melbourne, with a focus on tech and innovation, renewable energy and sustainable development.

The Sydney leg of the visit includes a tour of the Barangaroo metro station, which is being built by a local subsidiary of Belgian construction firm Besix.

Princess Astrid will also pay tribute to Anzac soldiers involved in World War I battles in Belgium at commemorative events in the two cities.

Belgium's ambassador to Australia, Michel Goffin, said the mission was a chance to enhance the economic relationship between the two nations and the EU more broadly.

Two-way trade between Belgium and Australia was worth $4.6 billion in 2021, which included significant exports of raw materials and imports of pharmaceutical products.

Princess Astrid has previously represented the Belgian king on trade missions to Africa, South America, Asia, Canada and the Middle East.


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