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Belgian prince headed to NZ on trade delegation

Published: 9:28PM Monday November 19, 2012 Source: AAP

Prince Philippe - the Prince of Belgium - has been urged to jump on board the Western Australia economic juggernaut during his first official day of a trade mission to Australia.

Prince Philippe, who is the heir to the throne, is leading a trade delegation from Belgium around Australia and New Zealand, beginning in WA.

The prince will be meeting with some of the most influential business names in the country, starting with a trip to BHP Billiton's Nelson Point iron ore project in Port Hedland tomorrow.

He was welcomed to the state today by federal Senator Matthias Cormann - who migrated to Perth from Belgium in 1996 - and WA state resources minister Norman Moore, who said he hoped the visit would be a big step to more investment and a strengthening bilateral relationship.

"Things are happening here in Western Australia," Mr Moore told the prince at a business lunch in Perth.

"I am very sure your economic mission will further enhance the connection between Belgium and Western Australia, and forge new relationships, which will strengthen WA as a resources powerhouse in the nation."

The prince is leading a large contingent of Belgian ministers and 147 business representatives from 91 companies that will spend three days in WA, including a visit to the bustling iron ore export hub of Port Hedland.

The mission will also travel to Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne and Wellington.

In the Pilbara town, Prince Philippe will observe the work of Belgian dredging companies that have been vital to the development of the port.

Perth was not on the original itinerary, but the lure of WA's strong economy and record levels of investment convinced the delegation to schedule it as its first stop.

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