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Our relationship with Belgium
As trading nations with an international outlook, Belgium and New Zealand are like-minded on many global issues. We are also connected by a shared history through New Zealand's role in Belgium in World War I. This involvement has created a legacy of close and warm relationships which continue to this day: Mesen (Messines) is the twin town of Featherston in the Wairarapa, and a twinning relationship was established between Waimakariri and Zonnebeke during the 90th commemorative year of the Battle of Passchendaele.
Remembering World War I
New Zealand's participation in World War I is still commemorated with warmth in Belgium and this lies at the heart of the relationship between our two countries. Between 1917 and 1918, around 5,000 New Zealand servicemen were killed in battles at Belgium’s ‘Flanders Fields’, a huge loss to a country of little over a million people at the time. More than 4,600 of these servicemen are buried in around 80 cemeteries in Belgium. We have always worked closely with Belgium on common heritage issues, including most recently the laying to rest of unknown New Zealand soldiers on Belgian soil in 2012 and 2013. Four Belgians were made Members of the New Zealand Order of Merit in June 2015 for their services to commemorating New Zealand’s role in Belgium during World War I.
Two of New Zealand’s major World War I centenary commemorations to be held overseas include two events in Belgium in 2017, marking the battles of Messines (7 June) and the Battle of Passchendaele (12 October).
We have two Shared Memory Arrangements with Belgium, which promote cooperation in preserving and strengthening our shared history of the two World Wars.
Year ending March 2019 statistics
Total trade in goods
Exports to Belgium
Top exports: sheep meat, dairy products, wool and organic chemicals
Imports from Belgium
|Top imports: motor vehicles, pharmaceutical products, machinery, plastics, and organic chemicals|
|GDP per capita||US$46,556|
New Zealand traditionally enjoys a favourable balance of trade with Belgium. A large proportion of New Zealand's exports to the European Union enter through Belgian ports.
Belgium is an important market for sheepmeat, butter and cheese. It is also an important market for New Zealand coarse wool, most of which goes to supply Belgium's large export-oriented carpet manufacturing industry.
New Zealanders aged between 18 and 30 can apply for a 12-month working holiday visa for Belgium.
For more information, read the Embassy of Belgium in Australia's website (external link).
- New Zealand is represented in Belgium by the New Zealand Embassy, Brussels
- There is also a New Zealand Honorary Consul in Antwerp
- Belgium is represented in New Zealand by the Belgian Embassy in Canberra, Australia (external link)
New Zealand to Belgium
- April 2018: Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Peters visited Belium where he met with Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders.
- June 2017: Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy visited Belgium to represent New Zealand at the centenary commemorations for the battle of Messines in June 2017, meeting with King Philippe, Minister President of Flanders Geert Bourgeois, and Minister of Defence Steven Vandeput during this visit.
- March 2017: Hon Annette King MP led a A parliamentary delegation, called on speaker of the Belgian lowerhouse, Siegfried Bracke, during its visit to Brussels for meetings with the EU.
- January 2017: Prime Minister Bill English visited Belgium where he met with Prime Minister Charles Michel and visited First World War sites.
Belgium to New Zealand
- November 2012: Crown Prince (now King) Philip, accompanied by the Belgian Defence Minister Pieter De Crem, led a trade mission to New Zealand
News & Events
There is currently an outbreak of measles in New Zealand. The outbreak is pre-dominantly in the Auckland region.
Find out more about the current outbreak of measles in New Zealand.
A new memorial honouring the role of New Zealand Māori and other service people in the First World War will be unveiled in the Passchendaele Memorial Park, next to the Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917, Zonnebeke on Anzac Day, 25 April 2019.