Diamonds represent 70% of the trade between Israel and Belgium, and the two countries should work together to expand the scope of trade to encompass less “shiny” industries, President Shimon Peres told Belgian Prime Minister Yves Leterme, who is making the first visit by a Belgian prime minister to Israel since 2005.
The Foreign Ministry reports that Peres said Belgium was Israel’s second-largest trading partner in Europe and that trade between the two nations totaled some $4 billion annually.
Leterme told Peres that the purpose of his visit was to help garner momentum on bilateral relations and to increase the mutual investment between Belgium and Israel. The Foreign Ministry notes that the economies of Belgium and Israel are similar; both are small, open and have very developed hi-tech industries.
In addition to trade issues, Peres and Leterme discussed recent events in the Arab world, the Israeli-Palestinian peace process in light of the planned Palestinian declaration of statehood, and strengthening both Israeli-European bilateral relations and relations between Israel and Belgium.