Speech by Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra at the opening of the Dutch-Italian Business Forum, 15 May 2023

[Ladies and gentlemen, It's wonderful that you are here today, at this first Dutch-Italian trade forum.
I am convinced that trading is more than a transaction. It is also a way to strengthen prosperity, well-being and the bilateral relationship.
Italian industry is leading in Europe and is rightly admired here. That is why I am happy and proud that you are here today.]

Signore e signori,

È un piacere avervi qui oggi, in questo primo forum commerciale italo-olandese

Sono convinto che il commercio è molto di più di una semplice transazione. È anche un modo per rafforzare la prosperità, il benessere e le relazioni bilaterali.

L’Italia è a l'avanguardia dell’industria europea e giustamente ammirata anche in Olanda.  Per questo sono felice e orgoglioso che siate qui oggi

This forum is an important addition to the VanVitelli Dialogue, as our countries are not just allies with strong political ties – but also business partners.

It’s not news to you, of course, that the Dutch and Italians love doing business.

The total trade volume between our countries is worth some forty billion euros.

There are 450 Italian companies with offices in the Netherlands, and 200 Dutch companies with offices in Italy.

Around ten thousand Dutch nationals have made Italy their home.

I used to be one of them myself.

The six months I spent in Rome as an Erasmus student left me with memories that will last a lifetime, and a taste for all things Italian.

I have travelled to Italy countless times with my family – and even proposed to my wife Liselot there.

There are many others like me in the Netherlands, and conversely countless Italians have enjoyed visiting this country.

Today’s forum is about ties like these, and how we can use them to better work together on tackling the common challenges we face.

Businesses in both our countries are frontrunners in fields like the energy transition, sustainability, water management – and so many more.

These are key growth markets for tomorrow’s economy. They are essential if we want to create a stronger and more autonomous Europe.

That’s why this forum focuses on energy and the environment, aerospace, biomedical technologies, and semiconductors.

These areas offer numerous opportunities for cooperation, synergy, and scaling up.

I hope that today’s forum will help you identify some of these opportunities, and make the connections to seize them.

Thank you.