Speech by Prime Minister of the Netherlands Mark Rutte at the trade dinner held in Seoul
Ladies and gentlemen, Your Excellencies,
It will come as no surprise to hear that this isn't my first trade dinner. As Prime Minister of the Netherlands, each year I make several trips abroad accompanied by the crème de la crème of the Dutch business sector. We go in search of new opportunities and new partnerships. It's one of the best parts of my job and it's a really energising experience. All around the world, the business community is full of incredibly optimistic and positive people.
During each of these visits, there's a trade dinner where I say how innovative and creative our country is.
I say that we are outward looking, and a trustworthy partner.
I say that the Dutch persevere, that we like to think 'outside the box' and so on…
But here in Seoul, here in Korea, I don't need to do any of this. Here, I only need to say 'Guus Hiddink' and you know what I mean.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Korea and the Netherlands share a long history that began with the legendary journey of Hendrik Hamel in the 1600s.
He is still greatly respected in both our countries.
In the mid-20th century, Dutch and Korean soldiers fought side by side for freedom and democracy. Ever since, our history has been one of friendship and shared values. And in recent decades in particular, the relationship between our countries has grown even closer.
It's a relationship built on waves of economic and technological progress and a shared mindset that focuses on innovation and business.
The numbers speak for themselves.
Today, around 70 Dutch companies are active in Korea, including global players like ASML, Shell, Philips, DSM and Heineken.
At the same time, around 135 Korean businesses are active in our country. I can assure you that we're delighted to have Samsung, LG, Hyundai and all the other companies adding value to our economy. Korea is our number-two export partner in Asia. And we are Korea's number-three export partner in the EU. Our trade volume is increasing rapidly. In the past five years, in fact, it's risen by almost 50 per cent.
In short: we have a dynamic relationship that holds a lot of promise for the future. Because there is room for growth and potential for more trade.
And I'm not the only one who believes it. The 60 companies on this trade mission think so too. Together, these 60 companies showcase the best that the Netherlands has to offer in areas that are important for both our countries. For a start, in open and connected societies like ours, the creative industries are playing an ever greater role. The Netherlands has a long tradition of design and architecture that is now being bolstered by new and exciting advances in gaming and virtual reality. An increasing number of applications in the areas of energy, security and health highlight how our shared future will be largely determined by such progress. And we can support each other in this. The same applies to smart industry and the world of big data. Dutch companies invented Wi-Fi, the CD and the DVD. And Bluetooth was invented by a Dutchman as well.
Together, we can make giant leaps forward in the use of satellite data, nano technology and semiconductors, to mention only a few examples.
Water management and agri-food are two sectors where our country leads the world. Across the globe - including in Korea - questions are arising about climate change and food security. The Netherlands wants to be a major international partner in solving these issues. The Netherlands is the world's second-biggest exporter of agricultural goods. Topped only by the United States. That says a lot about the power of our agriculture and horticulture sector.
It's highly productive and it's driven by state-of-the-art knowledge and know-how. We are happy to share these with our partners in Korea.
And last but not least: our leading position in water management is simply due to the fact that half our country lies below sea level.
For more than a thousand years we have managed to prosper and keep our feet dry at the same time.
So we know water. We know the maritime world. And as a sustainable urban delta we keep creating solutions that combine flood safety and clean water with important issues in fields like urban planning, renewable energy, sustainable logistics and waste management. In 2015 the 7th World Water Forum took place in Seoul. Our water partnership is already strong but I hope that this visit will create even more opportunities for both our countries.
Ladies and gentlemen,
In 2002, on the eve of the World Cup, Guus Hiddink said: 'We are definitely going to surprise the world.' In this spirit of determination, ambition and team work, I wish you all many new partnerships and many new opportunities that will lead to new business successes in Korea and the Netherlands.