Speech by Prime Minister Mark Rutte marking the 40th anniversary of the Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency, The Hague
Ladies and gentlemen, Mr Nijland,
Forty years of the Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency is indeed cause for a celebration.
My congratulations on reaching this milestone.
And a big thank you for everything the NFIA has accomplished in those forty years, for the benefit of the Netherlands and the international business community in our country.
Or, to borrow your own motto: thank you for forty years of ‘rolling out the orange carpet’.
What started as little more than a dedicated taxi and support service for international business people landing at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol is now a highly professional organisation and a key player in our international economic strategy.
With its HQ in the Hague and 26 offices around the world, the NFIA is like a special foreign office for economic diplomacy with a hands-on mentality – a perfect combination.
Over the years, the NFIA has helped over 4,000 companies to establish or expand operations in the Netherlands.
They include famous names from all over the world like Google, Danone, Fujifilm and Tata Consultancy Services.
The NFIA might not always play a high-profile role.
And that’s only logical.
In your line of business, flying under the radar is the best guarantee of success.
Your work is about getting other people on the stage and around the table.
That’s your core business.
But ladies and gentlemen, take it from me: despite its backstage role, the NFIA is highly influential and extremely effective.
In fact, it’s one of the very few government institutions – if not the only one – that actually brings home the bacon.
I know this from personal experience, because in my time as prime minister I’ve had the privilege of leading some twenty trade delegations abroad.
From China to the Caribbean, and from the United States to Indonesia.
So I’ve travelled the world with hundreds of Dutch businesses, looking for new contacts and opportunities.
And I’ve spoken to foreign business people at countless business lunches, innovation seminars and CEO round tables on the advantages of investing in the Netherlands.
But I’m very aware that the real work is done by Mr Nijland and his team.
Let me give you a few real-life examples.
Last week I was in Canada.
And in preparing for this trip, I learned that McCain – the global Canadian food company that’s been in the Netherlands for almost fifty years – is expanding its Dutch operations to produce more french fries and other potato products for the rest of Europe.
And who’s helping them as a trusted advisor and facilitator?
The NFIA, of course.
In April, during a trade mission to China, I had the honour to be present when five Chinese companies received an award for the key role they’d played in Sino-Dutch relations and for being such large investors in the Netherlands.
It was no accident that this event took place under the banner of the NFIA’s 40th anniversary, because the agency plays a major role in our economic relations with China.
It really was a night to remember.
One last example: I already mentioned that Danone was one of the companies that expanded in the Netherlands with the help of the NFIA.
Soon they will be opening a new production plant in Cuijk, in the province of North Brabant.
I was really sorry that because of my busy schedule I had to decline their invitation to perform the opening ceremony.
But their invitation letter was definitely one for the scrapbook.
Because it explained that the decision to build this factory in the Netherlands was all about its proximity to a specialised R&D facility in Utrecht.
About the Netherlands’ reputation as a dairy country.
About its highly skilled work force.
And last but not least about – and I quote – ‘the ongoing assistance we receive from Dutch government bodies, including the Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency’.
Ladies and gentlemen, I rest my case.
Letters like these underscore how important it is that we keep investing in our business climate.
This government strongly believes that our open and international economy can only flourish if we make sure that the Netherlands remains attractive to international companies.
In the Netherlands there are 15,000 foreign-controlled companies and 1.4 million full-time direct and indirect jobs that prove me right.
So I ask the NFIA to keep broadcasting its important message in the future: ‘Invest in Holland.’
Keep rolling out that orange carpet.
And now, let us raise a glass to 40 years of the NFIA.
And, of course, to the next 40 years: cheers!