Cooperation in diamonds, the port industry: several economic agreements were concluded Wednesday in Antwerp with Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi, visiting Belgium to turn the page Kabila years and relaunch the bilateral relationship with the former colonial power.
After the reception with the military honors and the reception by the royal couple on Tuesday in Brussels - marking "the end of the ice age", according to the Belgian press -, the displacement continued Wednesday with the port of Antwerp.
Ranked second in Europe for sea freight traffic (after Rotterdam), the large Belgian port has announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding "to intensify existing cooperation" with the port of Matadi, on the Congo River.
"The port of Antwerp will bring its expertise to establish a port authority in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)," added the statement issued after the visit of Mr. Tshisekedi.
In the morning, the Congolese President also visited the World Diamond Center in Antwerp (AWDC), where another cooperation agreement was signed.
The fourth largest producer of diamonds in volume, the DRC will benefit, thanks to this agreement, the expertise of the Center on the "transparency and traceability of minerals", according to the Belgian side.
It is also a question of "increasing the direct trade flows between the two countries" and "training civil servants of the DRC in Antwerp".
Antwerp is one of the world's largest diamond trading platforms, accounting for 49% of Congolese imports in Belgium, according to AWDC.
On Tuesday, it was in the diplomatic, finance and cooperation sectors that three memoranda of understanding had been concluded between the two countries.
Speaking of "revitalizing" the relationship, Belgian diplomacy announced the relocation of ambassadors to both countries, and the reopening of the DRC's consulates general in Antwerp and Belgium in Lubumbashi.
While Belgium is currently deprived of a full-fledged government, it is about taking over the relationship "floor by floor, without rushing things", according to the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Didier Reynders. To show "a prudent voluntarism", according to a relative of the file.
"We are a partner with many demands on the results on the ground," Minister of Finance and Cooperation Alexander De Croo told RTBF, calling on Tshisekedi to be "a president for the Congolese. ".
"After an election that has been quite hectic, we have to prove every day that we are president for our people," he added.
This is the first time that Felix Tshisekedi goes to Europe since he was proclaimed winner of the presidential election of 30 December 2018 in the DRC.
A disputed result (rejected in particular by the candidate Martin Fayulu) that Belgium had taken several months to ratify.
© 2019 AFP