Koenders strengthens links between Caribbean countries of the Kingdom and Latin American partners

From Monday 4 to Monday 11 May foreign minister Bert Koenders will visit the Caribbean countries of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and three Latin American partner countries. The minister’s first stop will be Aruba, followed by Curaçao, St Maarten, Cuba, Guatemala and finally, Mexico.

The visit will focus on developments in Latin America and the Caribbean. The region is of great strategic importance for the Kingdom, in part due to cooperation on political issues and in multilateral forums. Latin America also offers many economic opportunities thanks to significant investment, import and export links. Working visits like this one are a chance to strengthen political relations and decide on joint initiatives and opportunities.

As Minister of Foreign Affairs for the entire Kingdom, Mr Koenders works closely with the Kingdom’s three Caribbean countries on foreign relations. During this visit, he will chair the Kingdom Conference on Foreign Relations, an annual meeting with the prime ministers of Aruba, Curaçao and St Maarten. He will also hold meetings with each country’s governor and prime minister to discuss issues such as regional development, the Kingdom’s UN Security Council candidacy and economic cooperation.

On the invitation of his Cuban counterpart, Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, who visited The Hague for the first time last Friday, Mr Koenders will then travel to Cuba. The Netherlands fulfils a bridging role for Cuba. The two countries have already signed an agreement pledging to increase their cooperation. They intend to seek out cooperation opportunities in such areas as trade, agriculture, water management, biotechnology, regional and multilateral cooperation, human rights and human rights instruments. Recent international developments offer new investment opportunities, including for the Dutch private sector.

After Cuba, the minister will visit Guatemala. The Netherlands in general, and Mr Koenders in particular, have a long-standing relationship with this country. In recent years, the economic and political aspects of this relationship have changed significantly. The Netherlands has devoted more attention to ensuring security, access to justice and human rights. There has been a particular focus on the International Committee against Impunity in Guatemala and the position of human rights defenders. These factors, coupled with Guatemala’s emerging economy, are vital for good economic development and cooperation. The Netherlands is also looking at how multilateral cooperation could be improved.

Mr Koenders will end his trip in Mexico, a country with which the Netherlands wants to work more closely on economic and security-related issues. The visit will be an excellent opportunity to strengthen bilateral trade relations and cooperation on issues such as peace missions and the fight against international drug trafficking. The Netherlands and Mexico are well-suited partners that support one another’s multilateral efforts. In 2016 Mexico will chair the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, while the Netherlands will hold the Presidency of the EU for the first half of the year.