Canada’s merchandise trade with Belgium

Christian Sivière, Solimpex Montréal and Ottawa    ©August 2019

Canada’s merchandise trade balance with the world remained positive in June, posting a
$136 million surplus, following the near-record surplus of $556 million in May, with exports
down 5.1% and imports down 4.3%.

Total Canadian exports decreased to $50.3 billion, more than offsetting the strong gains
observed in May. There were widespread decreases throughout the product sections, with exports of energy products down 7.4% and non-energy products down 4.4%.

Geographically, Canada’s exports to the United States were down 3.9%, mainly due to
lower exports of crude oil. Exports to other countries fell 8.4%, in part due to lower exports to Hong Kong (gold) and Saudi Arabia (transportation equipment), which were partially offset by higher exports to the United Kingdom (gold).

Overall Canadian imports came to $50.2 billion, the lowest level since November 2018, with decreases observed in most product sections. Canadian imports from the United States declined 3.8%, while imports from other countries were down 5.2%, with lower imports from Germany (cars), Saudi Arabia (crude oil) and Mexico (various products) contributing the most to the widespread decrease.

As these figures vary substantially from month to month, due to exchange rate fluctuations, seasonal variations and large one-time contracts, let us look at the big picture and at the main commodities that were traded between Canada and Belgium in 2018.

Merchandise exports from Canada to Belgium totalled $3.647 billion in 2018, compared to $3.348 billion in 2017 and the ten top commodities exported were:

-Precious or semi-precious stones, precious metals, metals clad with precious metal and
articles thereof: $1.28 billion, representing 35% of total exports;
-Products of the chemical and allied industries: $664 million;
-Mineral products: $483 million;
-Base metals and articles of base metals: $403 million;
-Vehicles, aircraft, vessels and associated transport equipment: $267 million;
-Vegetable products: $142 million;
-Machinery and mechanical appliances; electrical equipment and parts: $129 million;
-Plastics, rubber and articles thereof: $71 million;
-Live animals and animal products: $49 million;
-Wood and articles of wood: $46 million.

Merchandise imported by Canada from Belgium reached $4.448 billion in 2018, compared to $3.171 billion in 2017, a 40% increase, likely triggered by the CETA Free Trade Agreement between the European Union and Canada, and the ten top commodities imported were:

-Products of the chemical and allied industries: $1.877 billion;
-Vehicles, aircraft, vessels and associated transport equipment: $762 million;
-Mineral products: $550 million;
-Machinery and mechanical appliances; electrical equipment and parts: $351 million;
-Prepared foodstuffs; beverages and spirits; tobacco: $262 million;
-Works of art, collector’s pieces and antiques: $144 million;
-Base metals and articles of base metals: $127 million;
-Plastics, rubber and articles thereof: $104 million;
-Precious or semi-precious stones, precious metals, metals clad with precious metal and
articles thereof: $78 million;
-Textiles and textile articles: $50 million.

As we can see from the above, products traded between Canada and Belgium are diversified and volumes rising. Belgian exporters have clearly been faster than Canadian exporters to take advantage of the CETA Free Trade Agreement, provisionally in effect since September 2017. It will be interesting to see the evolution of our bilateral trade in the months ahead.

Christian Sivière, Solimpex Montréal and Ottawa    ©August 2019

Source: Statistics Canada

Job Opening: Flemish Project Manager

LWT Communications is seeking a Flemish Project Manager to work in-house or from home for our Toronto office. The project coordinator will liaise with office in Brussels at will work as close as possible to Brussels time.

To apply for this position, you must be trilingual Flemish/French/English and have at least 3 years of experience in a similar role in the field of translation.

LWT Communications will ask you to provide references. A background check will be performed by a third-party company.

Reporting to the Senior Project Manager in Toronto, Canada, you will be responsible for coordinating the work and planning of translation projects, monitoring project progress and communicating status reports to the client, ensuring optimal quality of the translations, and guaranteeing timely delivery of translation to the client.

This position covers the following responsibilities and tasks:
 Coordinating all the project phases, including, but not limited to: preparing quotes and
determining delivery deadlines; assigning work to translators and/or reviewers and negotiating delivery deadlines and rates; monitoring project progress and budget; performing quality checks at various stages of the process to ensure quality and accuracy (depending on the language); communicating status to clients
 As the one point of contact between the client and LWT, assisting clients and/or the translation team by providing linguistic advice and answers, in a timely manner, to all questions related to the translation projects
 Working closely and communicating regularly with the Senior Project Manager to ensure
compliance with applicable procedures and guidelines
 Creating, maintaining, and developing client/product-specific term bases, glossaries, and translation memories, and preparing client-specific style guides
 Establishing and maintaining excellent relationships with contract translators, continuously evaluating level of quality provided by translators, regularly researching experienced and reliable contract translators and negotiating rates

 Establishing and maintaining excellent relationships with clients
 Other responsibilities as assigned

 Excellent written and verbal English and French communication skills
 Bachelor’s degree and/or Master Degree in translation (English/French) from an accredited institution.
 Three to five years of experience in a professional experience in a similar position in a
translation agency or corporate environment
 Excellent proofreading skills, attention to detail, and focus on quality
 Clear and professional communication, organizational and interpersonal skills
 Effective time management and awareness of deadlines
 Ability to work in teams, as well as independently under minimum supervision in a fast-paced environment
 High degree of initiative, proactive, results and performance-driven
 Fast learner, willing to use and become proficient with new technologies and tools

 Experience with translation memory tools, preferably memoQ
 Experience with Plunet BusinessManager
 Experience with Microsoft Office suite

 Experience with desktop publishing and/or online publishing applications is a plus
 Fluency in another language is a plus

Applicants should send me their resume at

Dentons’ Xavier Van Overmeire appointed President of the Belgian Canadian Business Chamber

Toronto – The Belgian Canadian Business Chamber (“BCBC”) is proud to announce that Xavier Van Overmeire, Regional Head of the International Trade Group (Montreal) of Dentons LLP, has been appointed President of the BCBC. The BCBC aims to foster contacts and relationships for its members who share an interest in developing business and trade opportunities between Canada and Belgium.

Xavier has an extensive expertise in multi-jurisdictional transactions, including international mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures and strategic alliances, and his wealth of experience representing notably Canadian and Belgian companies before international courts of law makes him an ideal candidate for this position. 

Moreover, Xavier is Fellow of the Centre d’études et de recherches internationales de l’Université de Montréal (CÉRIUM) and is regularly invited by various international associations and corporations as a speaker on free trade agreements, most particularly on the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (the “CETA”) between EU and Canada. 

“We are delighted to welcome Xavier to the leadership of the BCBC. He brings a solid experience of international business development and a deep knowledge of the Canadian-Belgian network to the Chamber. We express our support and our best wishes for success” said André van der Heyden and Christian Frayssignes, Vice-presidents of the BCBC.

2018 Year-in-Review

January 2019

Dear Members and Friends,

As we start off 2019, I have the pleasure to share with you the highlights of a very busy and successful 2018 for the BCBC. For the fourth year in a row, we have held a significant number of high-caliber events, and have continued to build on new initiatives to serve you better. 

For the second year in a row, we opened our “events season” with a “Wine & Food with the Belgians”, hosted by our friends at Dentons. This is a great opportunity to not only take care of your membership, but to also have a great time with your friends from the BCBC community and exploring different wines and cheeses. We will be hosting such an event again this January 24th, and I look forward to seeing each and every one of you there. This year’s Guest of Honour will be the Ambassador’s wife, Ms. Kathleen Billen, author of “.be our guest – the ambassadors of Belgian hospitality”, which highlights Belgium’s exquisite gastronomic products and features recipes from Michelin-starred Belgian chefs!

We have continued to seek out new partnerships adding CFO Source and Tailwinds Accounting to our repertoire of partners, and we continue to explore several exciting opportunities. We have also engaged in a number of activities with our various partners this year, including joint events with OWIT, EUCCAN, and our fellow EU Chambers in Canada. Please visit our website to find out the great benefits these partnerships can offer you. 

2018 marked the 100th Anniversary of some of the major battles of World War I and most importantly, the Armistice ending “The Great War”, and along with the rest of the world, we participated in celebrations, notably VisitFlanders’ “Centennial Designation of Peace Year” celebrations in March. In rather stark contrast to the quiet reflections on peace and remembrance of those who sacrificed on the behalf of their contemporaries which accompany any celebration of large-scale conflict, 2018 also provided for much more light-hearted and animated celebration as national teams battled it out on the fields of the FIFA World Cup; with a strong team, the Belgian Red Devils were considered strong contenders for the title, and Belgians throughout Canada and the world rode a roller-coaster of emotions as the Red Devils fought their way through the field, finishing a respectable third.

We have continued our very successful Business with Belgium series, exploring the opportunities and challenges of CETA, and with the October edition taking a look at the EU’s new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). This look considered both the impact which GDPR would have on Canadian companies doing business in Europe, as well as how GDPR might serve as a template for Canada’s efforts to update our own e-privacy regulations.  

For the seventh year, we partnered with the International Economic Forum for the Americas on their Toronto Global Forum, which is committed to heighten knowledge and awareness of the major issues concerning economic globalization, with a particular emphasis on the relations between the Americas and other continents. 

It is noteworthy that organizations such as Export Development Canada, CIMA Canada, and IE Canada continue to attend our events; this shows us that other organizations are being drawn to our doorstep as a resource for international learning and networking. We continue to be recognized as the go-to organization for guidance and representation of all things Belgian. 

In addition to our recurring series – Belgians in Canada (BIC), Business with Belgium (BWB), and Frites Night – we have partnered on several events with our friends and partners, with topics as diverse as how philanthropy could apply the lessons and methods of the for-profit sector, developing a global mindset and exporting through Canada’s progressive trade agenda and the gastronomic economies of European countries. CHOQ-FM once again asked us to take part in the launch of their new program schedule, with an increased focus on current events and/or business affairs; as we partnered with them a number of times this past year on such topics, they requested that we speak to our collaboration.

In November 2015, we held our first-ever charitable event; a fundraiser benefitting the Labatt Family Heart Centre for Sick Kids Hospital for whom we managed to raise $1,398. Due to the success of this event, we decided to make this an annual undertaking, and moved it to the more symbolic date of December 6th, better known in Belgium as Saint-Nicholas; as the patron saint for children, it seems only fitting that we come together as a community to support Sick Kids on this date.  For the fourth year in a row, we carried on this tradition, and in this time have raised approximately $6000 for this worthy cause; thank you all for your support in this effort. A special thanks goes out to all of our sponsors who provided us with food, drinks and raffle prizes. 

As some may recall, in 2010 the chamber was on the verge of closure. At the end of 2015 we closed the renaissance phase of the BCBC, having successfully rebuilt it to be one of the most active and vibrant European chambers in Canada. 2016 saw the start of the next phase of growth and expansion, in which we will be offering more and new services for business, more opportunities to network and learn, more events, and more added value for your BCBC membership. This phase has continued to progress steadily throughout 2018, and we are going to continue to build a solid reputation as the go-to point of contact for both Canadian companies wanting to do business with Belgium as well as Belgian companies expanding into Canada. We continue to maintain and foster a strong relationship with our various Trade Commissioners throughout Canada such that we may all provide as comprehensive a resource as possible. We thank you for your continued support as we continue to build a better and stronger Belgian Canadian Business Chamber

Without our sponsors much of what we do would not be possible. We are very thankful for the continued support from our sponsors: Brussels Airlines, Labatt, AGFA Gevaert, Aird & Berlis LLP, Dentons LLP, KPMG, The Belgian Chocolate Shop, Puratos, McCain, Atlas Copco, Goslett Wong – Business Immigration Law Group, MTFX, HRWare, Gerrard-Boden Management, Groupe Estelle de France, Mardalvi, TWC International Executive Search, A. Hartrodt, and Léon Collet Translation. 

2018 has been an exciting year, and we are already getting geared up for an even more exciting 2019. We really do appreciate your feedback; I encourage you to get in touch with us via the “Contact Us” page on our website and let us know what you’d like from your Chamber. We have also begun a modernization project of our website, so please let us know what you’d like to see. If you haven’t already done so, I invite you to join our social networks on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.  

I look forward to seeing each and every one of you at our upcoming Wine & Food with the Belgians on January 24th! 

All the best for 2019, 


André van der Heyden

Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer

Belgian Canadian Business Chamber 

Job Opportunity in Ottawa

The Embassy of Belgium in Ottawa is recruiting
a Trilingual Executive Assistant to the Ambassador

The offer:

  • A varied job with responsibility and visibility in a pleasant international environment;
  • Contract of indefinite duration, starting on April 15th 2019;
  • Competitive and secure salary and working conditions.

Main tasks:

  • First point of contact for persons wishing to be in contact with the Ambassador;
  • Management, coordination and co-organization of the Ambassador’s agenda (meetings, correspondence, travels, visits, etc.);
  • Administration relating to the Ambassador’s professional expenses;
  • Correspondence and contact with amongst others the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairsand Canadian government officials;
  • Maintenance of a data base relating to the Ambassador’s professional contacts;
  • Support with the organization of events and public diplomacy initiatives of the Embassy.

Main skills and competences:

  • Fluent in French, English and Dutch (written and oral);
  • Proficient with computer programs such as Outlook, Word, Excel and PowerPoint;
  • Have an affinity and fondness for Belgium, its culture, food and humor;
  • Good communicator and pleasant colleague within a small team;
  • Ability to respect deadlines and to work autonomously and accurately;
  • Tactfulness and confidentiality


A prior similar work experience and knowledge of Canadian and Belgian institutions are an asset. Enthusiasm, flexibility and eagerness to learn quickly are assets too.


Applications or questions relating to the job description should be sent to the attention of Mr. Patrick Deboeck, head of administration, at Patrick

Deadline for applications: February 10th, 2019


Understanding European Privacy Laws: Impacts on Canadian Business

By Ken Mark, Freelance writer.

On November 16 at the KPMG offices at 333 Bay Street the Belgian Canadian Business Chamber hosted  seminar on the recently announced European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

In his opening remarks, Christian Frayssignes, vice-president of the Canadian Belgian Canadian Business Chamber (CBBC)  reported that in the first year of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with the 28-member European Union,  Canadian exports increased 3.3 -per cent imports rose 12.5 per cent.

André van der Heyden, CBBC vice-president and COO also reminded  the audience that Brussels is the de facto capital of Europe being the home for several major European Union governing bodies as well as the ideal entry point for goods to reach more than half of the EU’s 510 million consumers

Cristina Onosé, Director Canadian Marketing Association,  explains  that under General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), Canadian firms must strengthen their IT data security practices and procedures to comply with of the EU’s requirement. As of November 1, 2018, its mandatory data breach notification will  be coming into force in Canada.  

GDPR  requires Canadian firms doing business with the EU to notify the Privacy Commissioner of Canada and all affected individuals if they suffer any type of loss of personal information that causes a real risk of major  harm. If Canadian companies offering goods or services to European Union (EU) residents or monitor the behavior of EU residents within the EU, they will now need to comply with strict new rules around how they collect, handle and secure information.

Says Derek Lackey, Toronto-based Managing Director of Newport Thomson, a data & privacy compliance consulting firm, “ concludes that Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), which sets out the privacy obligations that firms must adhere to when they handling  personal information obtained in commercial is no longer adequate. 

He supports GDPR proposed  rules requiring firms to protect the personal and other data of their consumers and clients and formally requesting permission to share the personal data which they have collected. As well, he supports imposing penalties for non-compliance which do not exist under PIPEDA. “Enforcement is the key to protecting Canadians’ personal electronically collected data,“ he says.

Lackey also notes that the so-called FANG group of high-tech titans Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google may soon face huge fines from European and other regulators for their casual approach to sharing and selling their consumer data without informed consent.

In his comments, Donald Johnson, a partner with the law firm Air& Berlis and Honorary Consul General of Belgium in Toronto explained that existing data protection rules are inadequate in the today’s IT world based on involving external cloud computing solutions. He also notes that since 2012, the European Union has moved forward to become the world  leader in consumer data protection laws. He says, “Originally, personal data protection laws were based on principles, not rules.” 

He also mentions that many Canadian firms believe that they do not need to meet the new GDPR rules.  But if they have any business links with European firms, they should check if they need to comply. In fact, at the end of 2017, almost 40 per cent of EU companies were not ready for the new legislation.

In her comments, Sharon Bauer, a partner with the consulting firm KPMG outlined that GDPR requires that forms must inform regulators that their data system has been breached and if there is severe damage to  customer data  its cause and how it was repaired. Failure to  comply may lead to severe fines.

However, Bauer concludes that a positive certificate of assessment becomes  a seal of approval for the firm that increases the comfort level of its customers buying their products or services.

“It assures them ‘You can do business securely with us’.” 

Belgian passport – Belgisch paspoort – Passeport belge / Toronto – 07+08/11/2018


Do you need a new passport in the coming months and do you wish to have your biometric data taken in during a visit from the Flying Kit in Toronto on 7 and 8 November 2018? This link will explain you how to proceed.

Hebt u in de volgende maanden een nieuw paspoort nodig en wenst u uw biometrische gegevens te laten opnemen tijdens het bezoek van de Flying Kit  in Toronto op 7 en 8 november 2018? U vindt de procedure in deze link.

Vous avez besoin d’un nouveau passeport dans les mois à venir ? Il vous est possible de faire enregistrer vos données biométriques lors de la visite du « flying kit » à Toronto les 7 et 8 novembre 2018? Toutes les informations sont disponibles dans ce lien.

Francophonie en Fête

Francophonie en Fête unveils its program for our Annual Francophone Music Festival which runs Sept 20-29 2018.
The 13th edition of the Francophonie en Fête Festival is a week-long celebration including two full weekends of the francophone diversity that Toronto enjoys, brought together on stages across Toronto in a series of free and paid concerts. Through the Festival period an in-school educational program will be delivered to French-language schools across Toronto.

Check the website for the performance schedule and details:


David Goffin in Toronto

David Goffin will be playing in the Rogers Cup alongside the best tennis players in the world.

Great news – David is scheduled to play Canadian, Milos Raonic on Centre Court on Monday night!

This will be a packed house so David will need all the support he can get!
Tennis Canada would like to extend an invitation to the Belgian community in Toronto and area to allow an opportunity to see him play live and fill the stadium for his match via a discounted ticket program.
Click here to get discounted tickets.
PS – Make sure to tell your group to bring their Belgian flags and wave them proudly!!