Speech at the Investment Seminar in Tokio, Japan

Speech by Minister of Economic Affairs Henk Kamp at the Investment Seminar in Tokio, Japan, 30 October 2014

Ladies and gentlemen,

Not many countries are as important to the Dutch economy as Japan. Japan is the second-largest non-EU investor in the Dutch economy, in terms of direct jobs created. Over 450 companies at more than 750 locations employ over 38,000 people directly and many more indirectly. We drive Japanese cars, and we use our Fujitsu notebooks to look at the photos we take with our Canon cameras.

126 Dutch companies are active in Japan, and many more are interested – either in establishing themselves here or in doing business with Japan. So it’s no wonder that more than 90 companies and knowledge institutions have come with me to Japan this week.

Ties between Japan and the Netherlands

For more than 400 years, the focus of our ties has been on economic affairs, but our relationship today comprises much more.

Japanese collections ranging from art and handicrafts to everyday objects can be found in our Rijksmuseum, in the Siebold House and in the Royal Collection. And there are many traces of our ties here in Japan too. You have traditional Dutch windmills and tulip parks, and at the Huis ten Bosch theme park in Sasebo you can even pretend you are visiting a Dutch city.

There are exchanges between Dutch and Japanese musicians. And some remarkable results have been achieved by combining Japanese craftsmanship with Dutch design. We enjoy close scientific cooperation in the areas of nanotechnology, stem cells and bio-based chemistry. And innovative companies and research centres from our two countries are forging ahead together in other fields too: micro-electronics, high-tech systems, and offshore energy and ecology, for example.

In other words, the ties between Japan and the Netherlands run deep. So it is no coincidence that our King and Queen chose Japan for their first state visit outside Europe.

Top sectors

Ladies and gentlemen, I’m here this week with a delegation of businesses and knowledge institutions because we see many more opportunities for trade and cooperation. Japan and the Netherlands often face the same kinds of issues.

We share the paradox of having to battle against water while at the same time wanting to put it to better use, for instance by building offshore wind turbines. We both have urbanised and ageing societies and we’re both looking for the best way to create ‘the city of the future’. And both our countries are densely populated, so the need for efficient agricultural production methods is great.

In the Netherlands, businesses, knowledge institutions and government authorities work together to find solutions to these issues. We focus on nine top sectors, including agriculture, energy, high-tech systems and water. These are the Dutch sectors that are the most successful around the world, and where 95% of innovation originates.

Nearly all the Japanese companies that do business in the Netherlands are active in those nine top sectors, and are involved in several research projects in the Netherlands. This results in knowledge and innovation that both countries can use to their advantage.

Gateway to Europe

So we are very happy with Japan’s contribution and we would like to welcome more prospective investors to our country. And conversely, other countries’ appreciation for the Dutch business climate has been growing for years now. Recent research has shown that the majority of foreign companies in the Netherlands rate the Dutch business climate as ‘good to excellent’.

Why is it so good? Because the Netherlands is the gateway to Europe, thanks to its geographical location, the Port of Rotterdam, Schiphol Airport and the AMS-IX internet exchange. In addition, the Netherlands offers a good tax climate, a highly educated and multilingual workforce, efficient logistics and distribution facilities, and a stable government with clear policies.

Companies, educational and R&D institutions, and the government all work together to create the best environment to do research, develop new products and services, and manufacture and market these products. So as to maintain a healthy, innovative society. So it is only logical that the number of foreign investments in the Netherlands has been on the increase for several years now. Last year we saw an increase of 18 per cent compared to the year before.

Ladies and gentlemen, If you’re not yet convinced of the business opportunities available in the Netherlands, I’m sure you will be after this seminar. You will be hearing from business people who have already grasped those opportunities and from experts. They are here to talk to you about various aspects of investing in the Netherlands. I hope you will find their experiences useful and I look forward to seeing you in the Netherlands.

Thank you.