Speech by Prime Minister Mark Rutte at the opening of the Investment Seminar in Seoul
Ladies and gentlemen,
On 15 August 1653 a Dutch ship sailing from Taiwan to Japan got caught in a storm.
The rough sea broke the ship in two, and the crew tried with all their might to reach land.
Fortunately, they succeeded, and that is how the 23-year-old Dutchman Hendrik Hamel ended up on Korean soil.
That same night, the ship was smashed to pieces, and its cargo was spread out all along the coast.
It's amazing to compare the world of Hendrik Hamel with the world we know today.
On Sunday night I checked in at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport.
During my ten-hour flight I was able to read and sleep.
Then in Seoul I was met by a car and driven straight to my hotel.
Or compare Hamel's voyage with that made by the world's biggest ship two years ago.
The Pioneering Spirit is eight football pitches long.
But it sailed smoothly from a Korean shipyard to the Port of Rotterdam where its construction was completed.
In the past four centuries we have made incredible progress in the world of logistics.
And thank goodness for that.
Because that progress has allowed the people of two middle-weight countries, thousands of kilometres apart, to reach each other quickly and easily. It has allowed Korea and the Netherlands to combine their craftsmanship, creativity and innovative power. And it has allowed us to be here today, to build up our trade and economic relations even further.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I'm delighted by your interest in the Netherlands as a logistics hub.
For Korea, and for many countries around the world, the Netherlands has long been the gateway to Europe.
Our success is based on our cutting-edge infrastructure, world-class service providers and coastal location at the heart of the continent.
It's based on our two European mainports, Schiphol Airport and the Port of Rotterdam, located less than an hour away from each other.
This makes the Netherlands the key hub for transporting goods to the rest of Europe.
And a very attractive location for foreign companies. But our appeal is not only down to logistics of course.
Businesses are also attracted to the Netherlands because of our excellent living standards and working conditions, our world-class cultural institutions like the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and the Rijksmuseum, our highly educated and multilingual workforce, and our top-ranked universities.
The Netherlands is already home to around 135 Korean companies. And, as we speak, the Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency is talking to over 40 more about setting up operations in the Netherlands. That's great news.
We hope to welcome many more Korean people and companies to our shores in the years ahead.
The Dutch government will keep investing in our infrastructure to maintain our leading position as a logistics hub. But we can't do it alone.
We need partners like you to keep us at the top of our game.
So please don't hesitate to contact the Dutch embassy if you have any questions about our country.
I hope that today's event will be the basis for even more partnerships in the future.
I hope that we can keep building on our shared history, from Hendrik Hamel to the Pioneering Spirit, moving into a future where the connections between us are even bigger, even faster and even more powerful.