Trade mission to South Africa means opportunities for Dutch businesses

The trade mission to South Africa, headed by the Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Lilianne Ploumen, can count on an enthusiastic response from businesses and investors. Travelling with her are more than 50 Dutch companies from the agri-food, creative, life sciences & health and transport & logistics sectors. A further 40 Dutch companies are taking part in the Department of Design exhibition, one of the events marking Cape Town's tenure as World Design Capital in 2014. Ms Ploumen expects that her visit together with companies like Philips, Royal HaskoningDHV, Van Oord Dredging and IHC Merwede will generate sizeable contracts.

South Africa is far and away the most important African market for the Netherlands. In 2009 it began phasing out its development relationship with South Africa in favour of building stronger trading ties. 'While our long-standing development relationship is being wound down, it provides a good basis for future trade relations,' said Ms Ploumen. 'This is an advantage for Dutch companies. By the same token, South Africa has a lot to gain from our knowhow in these sectors.'

According to the minister, South Africa has a good economic and financial infrastructure, a business culture which is not too dissimilar to that in the Netherlands, and a high ranking in the World Bank's Doing Business index. 'The South African government has launched ambitious programmes in infrastructure, renewable energy, transport and sustainable agriculture. This means there are plenty of opportunities for Dutch companies,' she said.

Today the trade mission visits Cape Town, where the focus is on the Department of Design event. In addition, the minister will meet with Desmond Tutu. And she will open a football pitch as part of the Dutch football association's 'WorldCoaches' scheme. At Damen Shipyards she will open a new hangar and present certificates to newly qualified welders.

Following the trade mission in South Africa, Ms Ploumen will travel on to Angola, accompanied by 30 Dutch companies.