Short opening speech by Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte at the CEO Round Table, Hanoi

Short opening speech by the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte at the CEO Round Table, Hanoi, 17 June 2014.

[Deputy Prime Minister Hai],
Ladies and gentlemen,

Thank you for joining this CEO Round Table. It's the second in a short space of time.
Only three months ago the Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation and the Vietnamese Minister of Industry and Trade held a similar event in the Netherlands.

Clearly, we have more and more to talk about!
Trade relations between the Netherlands and Vietnam go back four centuries, when the first Dutch ships reached your shores.
Today the Netherlands is Vietnam's largest investor and third-biggest trading partner in the European Union.
In the last decade, the value of trade between our two countries has increased almost tenfold, to 3.6 billion dollars.

So economic ties between Vietnam and the Netherlands are booming.
And I'm confident that the Free Trade Agreement between the EU and Vietnam will further boost trade and investment to our mutual benefit.
I strongly believe that Vietnam and the Netherlands are natural allies.
We are both world players in the export of agricultural products.
We are both coastal states with strategic locations, and we excel in maritime affairs and logistics.
And as delta countries, we both face the challenges of climate change, especially in the fields of water management and energy.
So I've come to Vietnam with representatives of major Dutch companies active in these four sectors of mutual interest: water and maritime affairs, agriculture and energy.

The fact that we're holding another Round Table shows that Dutch companies want to do more business in Vietnam.
There are already around 120 firms active here.
Some of the companies in my delegation are taking their first steps in the Vietnamese market.
Others have been in Vietnam for decades.
And they tell us that Vietnam - with its location, its young, hard-working population and its fast-growing domestic market - provides ample business opportunities.
But they also tell us about the challenges companies face when doing business here.

I hope that today we can openly discuss what it will take to fully exploit the economic potential between our countries.
My government remains committed to helping Vietnam open up its economy, enhance its policies and become more competitive in this emerging region.
But in the end, it's all down to the business sector.
Economic growth and employment come about when companies meet and see joint opportunities.
Because entrepreneurs speak a universal language.

The rapid growth of trade between our two countries shows how important it is - and how profitable it can be - to invest in relationships.
To keep reinforcing our ties.
That's what we're doing today, at this Round Table.
Our goal is to sow the seeds of future partnerships.
And I have every confidence we'll succeed.

I hope you have an inspiring and productive meeting.

Thank you.