Speech Dijksma Quality Conference Shanghaï

'We’re at the beginning of a new chapter in economic history. We need a recycle-economy instead of a throw-away economy.
We’ll be placing completely different demands on quality. Re-use of raw materials and efficient energy use will be crucial factors. China and the Netherlands play an important role as innovative trade nations.' 

Ladies and gentlemen,

Thank you for inviting me to speak here.

It’s a great pleasure!

China and the Netherlands have a special relationship.

Not just a close trading relationship. But also a relationship of knowledge.

We’re very curious about each other’s know-how and innovations.

I greatly admire China for its openness and its keenness to learn from others.

It’s a quality our countries share. It’s in our DNA.

You only have to look at history:

China invented paper money…..

The Netherlands invented shares….

Both inventions changed the world!

They paved the way for a new financial and economic era.

We greatly need that kind of inventiveness in the present age.

We’re at the beginning of a new chapter in economic history.

  • In 35 years’ time, the world’s population will have grown by one-third.
  • By 2050, our planet will be home to 9 billion people.
  • And we’re experiencing massive urbanisation.

All these people are going to need food, clean water, energy and clean air.

But this won’t happen unless countries take responsibility, work together and build a different economy.

An economy with circular production processes, using less energy and creating less waste.

An economy that offers better prospects for future generations.

We need a recycle-economy instead of a throw-away economy.

It’s something that concerns us all. Producers and consumers.

There’s a great need for new knowledge, especially on the supply side. This conference is making an excellent contribution.

The title says it all: Quality: improve the supply side, usher in a new era.’

I’m sure that, in future, we’ll be placing completely different demands on quality. Re-use of raw materials and efficient energy use will be crucial factors.

China and the Netherlands will be able to play an important role here, thanks to our inventiveness.

  • China is the world’s largest producer of solar energy.
  • My country is 200 times smaller. Nevertheless, it’s the world’s second-largest agri-food exporter.

Our economic status makes both our countries major players. And that calls for responsibility. Many countries look to us to set an example.

So my message is that our close links, our curiosity and our drive to innovate will prove vital in the years to come.

And there are many more ways in which we can work together. In which we can profit even more from each other’s innovations. And take away many more obstacles.

Not only to streamline trade between our countries. But also to lead the world in taking steps towards a new, sustainable economy.

China understands this challenge better than anyone.

It is responding with great vigour.

  • The aim to spend 360 billion dollars on renewable power sources by 2020 is impressive.
  • China added 35 gigawatts of new solar generation capacity in 2016 alone. That’s almost equal to Germany’s total capacity, created in just one year!
  • And you’re working hard to establish an economy that’s based on innovation and quality, rather than on mass production and cheap exports.

In that process I encourage you to make this economy an open economy in which a level playing exists for all companies. 

An open economy in which innovations can thrive, because of well protected intellectual property rights. 

China is shouldering its responsibility as an economic superpower.

For instance, when it comes to tackling climate change.

The Chinese president Xi Jinping made that very clear in January, when he spoke about the Paris Agreement at the World Economic Forum.

I quote:

“All signatories should stick to it instead of walking away from it.”

I fully endorse his appeal.

The situation is desperately urgent.

We have to act now.

We can’t let the opportunity of Paris slip through our fingers!

We need to go up a gear.

That applies not only to climate policy, but also to the circular economy.

I believe we should link these two issues.

Because besides saving us billions of euros and creating hundreds of thousands of jobs, ‘going circular’ will also reduce our carbon emissions by tens of thousands of tonnes.

So, a circular economy links environmental and resource-related challenges with economic opportunities.

A study by the World Economic Forum found that sustainable companies that use a circular model are among the fastest growing in the world.

So they’re also job engines.

In the Netherlands, an effective climate policy will create 54,000 new jobs.

The Netherlands would literally be nowhere without innovation.

- A quarter of our country lies below sea level.

- Many of the great European rivers flow through our country on their way to the sea.

- Two-thirds of our country would flood instantly if we had no dikes or dams.

Innovation, cooperation, always on the lookout for new opportunities – it’s our survival strategy!

So the Netherlands sees opportunities when it comes to the circular economy. We want to be fully circular by 2050. Which means a no-waste economy which re-uses raw materials.

We’re already an international leader in the field of smart resource management. We recycle 81% of our waste.

But we’re also pioneering new designs, and new ways of providing services.

The Dutch company Fairphone has designed a production process that makes new and better telephones from old components. It’s the first in the world to do so.

And rather than selling lightbulbs, Philips sells companies light as a service. It’s a completely new business model.

China and the Netherlands often join efforts when it comes to the circular economy. Dutch expertise in this field is in great demand in China.

  • The Dutch company Orgaworld, for instance, works with Chinese partners to recover raw materials – like phosphate – from manure.
  • Our chemicals industry is working with counterparts in China to make Chinese chemical products more sustainable. For instance, by reducing the use of natural resources – sometimes by as much as 30%!
  • The Dutch authority Rijkswaterstaat has worked with the Chinese transport ministry for many years now in the field of sustainable asphalt. My country has also learnt much from this partnership.
  • Another Dutch strength is sustainable waste incineration. The Amsterdam-based company AEB has developed a new way of generating electricity from waste. It’s the most effective method in the world, with the lowest emissions. This technology is now being applied in Shenzhen.

My approach is to set goals, bring partners together and create optimum conditions for growing the new economy.

This calls for knowledge sharing and cooperation, especially at international level. I want waste regulations to promote, not obstruct, recycling.

That’s why my country set up an initiative called the North Sea Resources Roundabout.

Last year, I concluded a deal with other countries along the North Sea to facilitate cross-border trade in secondary raw materials like PVC, compost and bottom ash.

We collectively set new quality norms and redefined waste.

Which is good news for the environment, but also for the economy. Because it is a boost for the recycling industry.

By partnering with other countries in this way we can reinforce each other’s efforts.

The same applies to China and the Netherlands. We have a strong, dynamic relationship, but like any relationship it needs regular maintenance.

The port of Rotterdam makes the Netherlands China’s gateway to Europe.

In 2016 almost 45 billion euros’ worth of goods was traded between us!

It’s crucial that this flow of goods moves as smoothly as possible. On both sides.

It’s important for us to be kept informed of each other’s regulations, quality standards and controls. And let’s develop standards together!

Because in order to come to a circular economy and deliver on the pledges that we made in Paris, we have to set new standards for products.

For instance, in the EU, you’re not allowed to use certain metals in the production of small electrical goods. Otherwise it would be impossible to recycle them.

I’m delighted that our inspectorates and the Chinese AQSIQ have been working so well together in recent years in so many fields, including the issue of firework safety.

Therefor we need to keep working on our partnership.

We must avoid confronting each other with surprises.

The smooth passage of trade goods is in the interests of both China and the Netherlands. There are gains to be made. And I’m keen to play my part.

That’s why I attach so much importance to the mutual exchange of knowledge. And why I am so pleased to be able to address you at this important conference.

The Netherlands and China have a thriving relationship.

I’m proud of the fact that the Netherlands is China’s second-largest EU trading partner. And the third biggest EU investor in China.

Our two countries have always shown a keen interest in each other.

There is mutual respect for each other’s inventiveness.

I set great store by China’s openness, and the leadership you are showing on the circular economy and climate issues.

Let us continue to inspire each other. Let us keep our borders open, remove unnecessary obstacles, and exchange knowledge, to achieve step by step a new economic order.

I wish you an inspiring conference! Thank you.