General information on development cooperation

The Directorate-General for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Aid (DGD) is responsible for managing about two third of Belgium’s ODA. It is in charge of planning, guiding, supporting and following up on governmental development cooperation programs. Other directorates manage some ODA budgets within this federal public service, and other federal public services are also key players.

As per the May 1999 Law, Belgian development cooperation has been focused on sustainable human development with a particular emphasis on the reduction of poverty. Since 2015, its bilateral governmental cooperation has been concentrated in 14 countries, 13 in Africa and 12 in the group of Least Developed Countries (LDCs).

The focus of Belgian bilateral development cooperation is to assist partner countries with the implementation of their individual poverty reduction strategies. It is monitored by the Belgian embassies in the 14 partner countries. All government development programs are currently implemented by Belgian Development Agency (BTC), that will be renamed “Enabel” as from January 2018. Governmental cooperation activities are limited to healthcare, education, agriculture and food security, basic infrastructure and social development. A strong political focus is given to the Human Rights-based Approach and the sustainable and inclusive economic growth. Gender equality, the rights of children, and respect for the environment are cross-cutting topics which must be taken into account by all aid programs.

The 2013 Law on Belgian Development Co-operation is the legal foundation defining the principles and methods of Belgian cooperation to respond to the changing international context and the new challenges with which development assistance is confronted: the emergence of new players in development funding, the larger role of civil society and the challenges associated with global public goods (access to healthcare, combatting AIDS and other pandemics, maintaining natural resources, etc.).

Today, development cooperation faces a double challenge. On the one hand, delivering development aid is essential, on the other hand, it has become critical to guarantee consistency among policies and policy measures.

The law intends to:

  • Make Belgian official development aid more effective (i) through better alignment with policies in the receiving countries, which are responsible for their own development; (ii) through improved coordination among (among others, the European) donors; and (iii) through a more results-oriented approach and the further development of a democratic development policy in the countries, together with the local civil society;

  • Make the aid more sustainable, with an integrated approach concerning climate change and with attention paid to the three pillars of sustainable development (economic, social and environmental);

  • Strengthen policy consistency, thereby benefiting development cooperation;

  • Base Belgian Development Cooperation on an approach that is founded on rights, in which the social-economic and cultural rights (health, education, decent work, housing, food, etc.), civil and political rights (discrimination, freedom of expression, etc.), and the right to development are key points.

Economic development is an essential element for developing countries to rise out of poverty and free themselves from dependency upon aid. Based on the ILO’s Decent Work Agenda, the Law puts the social economy, the strengthening of local production capacity, local entrepreneurship, fair trade, etc. on equal footing. This approach then considers development cooperation to be more a question of justice than of charity.

In 2014, a new strategy for PSD (private sector development) provided by DGD was approved by the Ministry of Development Co-operation.

Aid for Trade Strategy

The Belgian Aid for Trade Strategy was approved by the Belgian Minister for Development Cooperation in June 2008 and is in line with the EU Aid for Trade Strategy adopted by the Council of the European Union in 2008. It defines the framework for Belgium’s contribution to the EU’s trade-related assistance (a subcategory of AfT). Belgium aims, through its AfT strategy, to add value to its ongoing development cooperation activities and to maximize aid effectiveness in line with the Paris Declaration and the European Union’s Code of Conduct on Complementarities and Division of Labor.

The principal areas of intervention are:

  • Institutional support; and

  • Support for local, sustainable agricultural enterprises and small and medium companies.

Linked to its AfT strategy, Belgium recognizes the role of the private sector as a key player for poverty alleviation.

The Belgian Investment Company for Developing Countries (BIO) plays a vital role in deepening the Belgian Government’s support for trade finance projects as well as its supply capacity programmes, particularly in the agricultural and agro-processing sector. A major part of Belgian AfT goes through BIO (55%) and is intended for small and medium enterprises. BIO aims at promoting a strong private sector in developing and/or emerging countries.

Geographically, Belgium directs its AfT funding mainly to African LDCs. Belgian AfT is channeled through a number of mechanisms at multilateral, regional and bilateral levels. At the multilateral level, an important part of its AfT has been channeled through multilateral partners such as the World Bank, regional development banks, UN agencies, CGIAR and the European Commission.

Several Belgian non-governmental actors are also deeply involved in AfT programmes, notably by providing technical assistance or by improving access to finance for SMEs willing to participate in regional or international trade.

To support its AfT strategy, the Government of Belgium has revamped some of its previous trade entities. The “Fair Trade Centre” created (in 2005) to raise citizens' awareness about a more responsible form of consumption was replaced by the “Trade for Development Centre” in 2009. This change was also accompanied by an increased range of responsibilities, going together with the growth of fair and sustainable trade and the rise of the concept “aid for trade” that led to giving trade a key role in policies to tackle poverty.

The Trade for Development Centre has the following mission:

  • to enhance the professionalism of producers in the South and improve their access to markets;

  • set up an exchange platform for issues related to trade, fair trade, and sustainable trade; and

  • improve expertise, disseminate information and raise awareness about the different types of fair trade, sustainable trade, and trade aid.

In addition to promoting fair trade and supporting promotion activities, the Trade for Development Centre is also responsible for ensuring that trade issues are integrated into Belgium’s bilateral programmes and providing support to the bilateral trade offices of Belgian development cooperation, with technical support in the area of trade.


Principal official agency responsible for TCB assistance to developing countries

Directorate-General for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Aid (DGD)
Contact details

Tel: +32 2 501 8111

Physical Address
Federal Public Service Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation
Rue des Petits Carmes, 15 B-1000 Brussels

Is the Belgian federal administrative body for development aid with overall responsibility for the implementation and strategic oversight of development policy, including AfT and trade capacity building. The DGD is integrated into the Federal Public Service (FPS) Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation.

It is also responsible for the preparation of programmes, management of statistics and budgets, and for ensuring the coherence of development policies. The structure of the DGD includes five operational directorates: the Geographical Directorate, the Thematic Directorate, the Civil Society Directorate, the Organisation Management Directorate, and the Humanitarian Aid and Transition directorate.

Other government and official agencies with responsibilities directly relevant to TCB

Belgian Development Agency (Belgian Technical Cooperation (BTC)
Contact details

Tel: +32 2 505 3700

Fax: +32 2 502 9862

E-mail: info [at] btcctb.org

Physical Address
Rue Haute 147 Hoogstraat B-1000 Brussels

BTC is a public-law company with social purposes, established by the Law of 21 December 1998. Its only shareholder is the Belgian State, which is represented in the General Meeting by the Minister of Development Cooperation. The relations between the Belgian State and BTC are governed by a management contract. Under the mandate of the Directorate-General for Development (DGD), BTC works in cooperation with the partner country and is responsible for implementing projects and programs of developing countries in their fight against poverty. In addition to its activities on behalf of the Belgian State, BTC also performs tasks for third parties. These tend to be more specific assignments for any public body in Belgium (e.g. municipalities, regions, provinces and communities), abroad (e.g. DFID) or at international level (e.g. the European Commission or the World Bank). With its partners, BTC manages approximately 200 projects intending to improve public service delivery to citizens and living conditions of populations, primarily on the African continent. BTC is represented in the partner countries by “resident representatives” who are responsible for overseeing the implementation of programs and projects, and from whose ranks BTC recruits project experts and participants (D1.3, LT, 17-2-2017).

Belgian Investment Company for Developing Countries (BIO)
Contact details

Tel: +32 2 778 9999

Fax: +32 2 778 9990

E-mail: tom.delatte [at] bio-invest.be

Physical Address
Avenue de Tervuren 188A b4 B-1150 Brussels

BIO is the main instrument for Belgium’s private sector support in developing and emerging countries. Established by the Law of 3 November 2001 as a public limited company whose shareholders are the Belgian state and the Belgian Corporation for International Investment (BMI-SBI), BIO’s mission is to support the development of a strong private sector in developing countries, and to contribute to the growth of local Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). BIO achieves its mission by providing tailored long-term financing (equity, quasi-equity, debt, and guarantees) at market conditions to financial institutions, investment funds, enterprises and private infrastructure projects. Through its Capacity Building Fund, BIO also to funds technical assistance programmes for client companies, and to co-finances feasibility studies. BIO works as a catalyst by operating in regions that are overlooked by commercial banks because of the high-risk factors. BIO supports projects with a balance between return on investment and development impact, hence taking into account indicators that contribute to sustainable development and bring a viable socio-economic added value.

BIO operates as an additional partner to the traditional financial institutions and requires its business partners to implement environmental, social and governance standards. BIO is a member of EDFI (European Development Finance Institutions).

The Trade for Development Center
Contact details

Tel: +32 2 505 3700

Fax: +32 2 502 9862

E-mail: tdc [at] btcctb.org

Physical Address
Rue Haute 147 Hoogstraat B-1000 Brussels

Carries out various programmes aimed at improving market access for SMEs and producer organizations in developing countries, as well as promoting fair and sustainable trade. It is integrated into BTC (the Belgian Development Agency).

It works around three main themes:

  • Supporting SMEs and producers;

  • Raising awareness about fair and sustainable trade; and

  • Providing recommendations to Advise to governmental development programmes on better market access approaches through strategic marketing, sales, communication and global business management, market intelligence and trend watching in fair and sustainable trade.

Other offical and NON-governmental organizations involved

AWEX - Wallonia Foreign Trade and Investment Agency
Contact details

Tel: +32-2-421-8211

Fax: +32-2-421-8787

E-mail: mail [at] awex.be

Physical Address
Place Sainctellete
2 1080 Brussels, Belgium

The AWEX is in charge of promoting Walloon foreign trade, and it deals with foreign investors in the Region. The Board of Directors represents equally the Walloon government, employer organizations, and unions.

The primary mission of AWEX is to:

  • Increase international visibility and improve the attractiveness of Wallonia;

  • Strengthen the professionalism of exporting companies;

  • Contribute to the annual increase of Walloon exports, outperforming European competing regions;

  • Broaden the geographic and sectoral ranges of the markets; and

  • Ensure an after-sales service.

Brussels Export
Contact details

Tel: +32 (0)2 800 40 00

Fax: +32 (0)2 800 40 01

Physical Address
Avenue Louise 500/4
1050 Brussels

Brussels Export is a partnership between the Foreign Trade Department of the Ministry of the Brussels Capital Region and BECI, Brussels Enterprises Commerce and Industry. BECI was established in 2007 and encompasses the services of the Brussels Chamber of Commerce (KHNB) and the Union of Brussels enterprises (VOB), as well as over 150 professional associations and inter-professional organizations.

Unlike FINEXPO at the federal level, Brussels Export does not provide financial facilities for the transactions themselves but supports the facilitation of an enabling environment.

The Government of the Brussels-Capital Region supports export promotion through an array of services.

Contact details

Tel: +32 (0)2 501 81 11

E-mail: finexpo [at] diplobel.fed.be

Physical Address
Cooperation rue des Petits Carmes
15 1000 Brussels, Belgium

Is an inter-ministerial advisory committee managed by the Administration of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. While it is chaired by the Director-General of Bilateral Relations at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the vice-chairman is provided by the Ministry of Finance. It comprises representatives of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade, Development Cooperation, Finance, Economy and the Budget, and also includes representatives of the National Delcredere Office and the Regions. As mentioned previously, FINEXPO studies the dossiers submitted by companies and/or banks seeking public aid for export credit.

The main objectives are:

  • To allow Belgian companies which are negotiating a contract and competing with companies from other countries to offer appealing and competitive financing, and

  • To allow Belgian companies to conduct projects in developing countries, and thereby contributing to their development.

State involvement is being carried out through providing financing at competitive market conditions and granting public aid for projects implemented in developing countries.

Available instruments include: (i) interest stabilization – relates to loans financed at market conditions: (ii) interest bonifications, (ii) interest bonifications with a grant; (iii) grants; (iv) State-to-State loans; and (v) grant for technical assistance.

FINEXPO was set up by the Royal Decree enhancing the effectiveness of instruments for financial assistance for exports and the Royal Decree of 15 July 1997 laying down the composition and the terms of reference of the FINEXPO Committee. The text of these decrees is included in the FINEXPO documentation and can be found on the FINEXPO website. The decrees determine which ministries are competent to grant public support and assistance and also lay down the methods of State involvement.

Flanders Investment & Trade
Contact details

Tel: +32 2 504 87 11

Fax: +32 2 504 88 99

E-mail: info [at] fitagency.be

Physical Address
Koning Albert II-laan 37BE
1030 Brussels – Belgium

Aims at promoting sustainable international business both in the interest of companies in Flanders and foreign companies through synergies and the expansion of networks and expertise achieved by the merger.

The Flemish policy supports sustainable and ethically responsible entrepreneurship. Three-quarters of Flemish exports are directed to European partners.

The development component of FIT’s activities has become more important as the agency is now involved in emerging markets and markets in developing countries.

The Agency for Foreign Trade
Contact details

Tel: +32 (0)2 501 81 11

Physical Address
Rue des Petits Carmes
15 1000 Brussels, Belgium

Which supersedes the Belgian Foreign Trade Office (OBCE/BDBH), has been running since March 2003. The Agency is defined as a “service center” for regional institutions promoting foreign trade, and it serves these institutions directly.

The Agency is responsible for:

  • Deciding on and organizing joint trade missions on the initiative of one or more regions or at the request of the federal authorities;

  • Organizing, compiling and disseminating information, studies and documentation on foreign markets for regional services responsible for foreign trade;

  • Tasks of common interest decided unanimously by the Board of Directors.

The National Delcredere Office (Credendo – Export Credit Agency)
Contact details

Tel: +32 2 788 88 00

E-mail: info-eca [at] credendo.com

Physical Address
Rue Montoyerstraat 3
1000 Brussels, Belgium

Is the Belgian public credit insurance company with a mission to promote international economic relations. Credendo performs this task as an autonomous government institution enjoying state guarantee. Credendo insures businesses and banks against risks related to international commercial transactions, mainly with respect to capital goods, industrial projects, and contracted works and services. To cover these risks, Credendo also works alongside with banks under risk-sharing schemes. The primary types of risks are political risks (upheaval, revolution, war, but also natural disasters) and commercial risks (the inability or unwillingness of the buyer to comply with its obligations). Credendo also covers foreign exchange risks and participates in export financing arrangements. In addition to traditional export credit insurance, Credendo’s offer includes financial guarantees and direct financing. To a large extent, activities focus on non-OECD countries since these markets bear a higher risk to Belgian exporters and traders (Credendo does not insure against export risks in all countries in the world).

The commitments assumed by Credendo are guaranteed by the State, while part of the political and the commercial risks assumed around the globe is reinsured internationally. For that reason, Credendo is active in credit insurance working groups within the European Union, the OECD, as well as the Berne Union (International Union of Credit and Investment Insurers). Also, Credendo forms part of the Belgian representation in the Paris Club, where it considers the export related private sector credit component of the debt portfolio. Credendo has set up an array of insurance instruments that can be used according to particular needs.

Selected TCB programmes and initiatives in this guide

INT0T0BU – Support to UNCTAD’s Technical Cooperation
Trademark East Africa (TMEA) Burundi Programme
Sustainable Agriculture Kigoma Regional Project in Tanzania
Agriculture support programme
Producer Financial Support Programme
Supply Chain and Logistics Development Programme (SCLP) – SADC
Development of responsible community-owned tourism opportunities in the Enduimet Wildlife Management Area
Ex Change programme for improving entrepreneurship
Restructuring the central and provincial departments of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Animal Husbandry – Congo
TDC Marketing support Program
TDC Market Research
Cooperation agreement with the East African Community
Port Friendship through Port Knowledge
Training of African customs officers
Belgian new strategy on “Digital for Development”
Access to Coordinated Credit and Enterprise Support Services in Vietnam
BIO loan support to AGB Technoprint – DRC
BIO Loan to Banco Comercial e de Investimentos (BCI)
APEFE “Min Ajliki” programme − Morocco
Morocco: Entrepreneurship of women and youth