Speech by Prime Minister Mark Rutte at a dinner with the President of Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto

Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

The Kingdom of the Netherlands is closer to Mexico than many might think. Here in The Hague, the beauty and pleasant climate of your country might seem far away, but the Caribbean part of our kingdom lies in the same region. We have a saying in our country: 'a good neighbour is better than a far-away friend.' The Netherlands and Mexico are fortunate to be both good neighbours and far-away friends.

Our friendship is built on a solid foundation. We both firmly believe in the power of international cooperation. The Netherlands currently has a seat on the UN Security Council, and served as chair last month. In the Council we are pressing for the modernisation of UN peace missions - something that's urgently needed. Since 2014 Mexico has been a highly valued contributor to these missions, and I know you feel exactly the same way. Let's continue working together to promote international peace, justice and development.

We're also both firm believers in free trade. Just this Saturday, Mexico and the EU reached a political accord on the free-trade Global Agreement - a reason for cheers and a positive signal to the world! Because these days free trade is under debate. In fact, some countries want to erect barriers of the kind we thought had long disappeared. Mr President, you once said, 'free trade, far from protectionism, is the path that we should take.' The Kingdom of Netherlands is on your side: we believe in open and free trade for the benefit of all.

Our countries are economic partners, too. Mexico is the Netherlands' third-largest trade partner in the Western hemisphere: in 2017 our combined trade in goods was worth almost four billion euros. Big Dutch multinationals like Philips, Shell, Unilever and KLM are active in Mexico.

Ladies and gentlemen, the Netherlands and Mexico also face many of the same challenges. Mexico is a gateway between North America and the rest of Latin America. Just as the Netherlands, with the port of Rotterdam and Schiphol airport, is the gateway to Europe. This means we have a lot to offer each other, especially in sectors linked to our strategic locations, like infrastructure, energy and offshore, and the maritime and water sectors. It also means that we face the same problems: how do we protect the environment and foster sustainability in the face of climate change? How do we adapt our infrastructure to a growing population and increasing economic activity? How can we design our living environment better to solve water-related problems? These are challenges that we can help each other tackle. That's why I'm here today with the Minister of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy, and the Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management, along with businesses and other sector representatives.

The Netherlands and Mexico are already working together in these areas. Take for example the upcoming partnership between Agua Capital, Deltares and De Urbanisten. This project aims to promote water security in Mexico City - a big issue there. And there are similar plans in the states of Oaxaca and Quintana Roo.

And Heineken recently opened a sustainable brewery in Chihuahua. The company is also working with Mexican businesses like Bimbo and Jumex on a project in Querétaro to reduce the harmful impact of goods traffic.

Queridos amigos, buenos vecinos, let us continue and expand our partnership. Let us unite and build on the best that the Netherlands and Mexico have to offer. And let us cherish our friendship, which is based, above all, on our shared values.

Thank you.

Ministry responsible