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Belgium's Princess Astrid part of economic mission to B.C., Alberta next week

VICTORIA — British Columbia and Alberta will host a royal business trip with a visit from Belgium's Princess Astrid and more than 200 business and state leaders from the European country.

The delegation makes stops in Vancouver and Calgary during the week-long visit, starting on Sunday.

Canada and the European Union reached a free trade deal earlier this year and Raoul Delcorde, the Belgian ambassador to Canada, says Belgians view B.C. as an ideal place to launch business opportunities into the Asia-Pacific region.

B.C.'s Minister of International Trade Teresa Wat says the European Union is B.C.'s fifth largest export market and the Belgian port of Antwerp is a major point of entry for Canadian goods in to Europe.

Belgium's Foreign Trade Agency says the mission includes officials from ports, chambers of commerce and more than 100 businesses, including liquefied natural gas, shipping, film, technology, research, agriculture and manufacturing.

The visit includes a ceremony where Princess Astrid bestows Wat with the Grand Officer of the Order of the Crown, one of the highest decorations from the Kingdom of Belgium.

The Canadian Press

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