Belgium on Thursday launched a Consulate General office in Chennai to build on rapidly-expanding bilateral ties with India.
Princess Astrid, representative of the King of Belgium, who has led a high-power trade delegation to India, formally opened the facility, which is only the second Consulate General and third diplomatic mission of the federal monarchy in India.
Belgium has a Consulate General office in Mumbai that has a history of over 150 years and a trade office in Bangalore. The office in Chennai is in Nugambakkam.
Pierre Vaesen, Belgian Ambassador to India, described the new facility as “one more bridge” to support and facilitate ever-expanding economic and cultural ties.
The Chennai Port and the city’s geo-strategic location in the Bay of Bengal that could help Belgium access Bangladesh and Myanmar, are among the factors that Belgium considered in locating its Consular office here.
Mr. Vaesen also evinced interest in partnerships with the southern region that houses most of the 160 Belgian investors in India. The possible areas of partnerships include IT, aerospace, sustainable energy and higher education.
According to Consular officials, a visa application centre recently opened in Chennai is expected to receive 10,000 applications over the next few months. However, for some more time, visa applications will be processed in Mumbai. A Consul General for Chennai is likely to appointed shortly, officials said.
Jan Van Dessel, director general, Bilateral Affairs of the Federal Public Service of Foreign Affairs, Belgium, said opening a Consulate General in Chennai was a sign of the importance attached to India as also its interest in strengthening bilateral trade ties.
Under the Belgian Economic Mission, six MoUs spanning spheres of logistics and medicine were signed. In all, the Mission, which also visited Mumbai and Delhi, firmed up 32 MoUs across various fields.
Celine Fremault, minister of economy, Brussels Capital Region, presented plaques to Chandrakant Kamble, Commissioner of Municipal Administration, Sudeep Jain, CMD, Tamil Nadu Energy Development Agency and Leslie Joseph Suresh Kumar, Chief Engineer (electrical), Chennai Corporation for promoting energy efficient lighting in partnership with lighting solutions company Schreder.
Princess Astrid is also scheduled to call on Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on Friday.