Partner and focus countries in development cooperation

In the field of foreign trade and development cooperation the Netherlands has a special relationship with certain countries. These are known as ‘focus countries’ when the relationship revolves around trade and ‘partner countries’ when it revolves around development cooperation.

The Netherlands maintains 3 types of relationship with partner countries and focus countries:

  1. Aid relationships

    The Netherlands helps countries that are unable to solve their poverty problems alone: ‘fragile states’ affected by war, weak governance, and major ethnic and political tensions. They lack the capacity to reduce poverty effectively without outside aid. The Netherlands has an aid relationship with Afghanistan, Burundi, Mali, the Palestinian Territories, Rwanda, South Sudan and Yemen.
  2. Transitional relationships

    The Netherlands helps low- and middle-income countries reduce poverty and boost economic growth. It also helps them to increase their market access and improve their business climate. The Netherlands runs programmes aimed at reducing poverty and promoting the four priority themes of Dutch development cooperation policy. The Netherlands has a transitional relationship with Bangladesh, Benin, Ethiopia, Ghana, Indonesia, Kenya, Mozambique and Uganda.
  3. Trade relationships

    Most of the Netherlands’ trade relationships are with OECD countries. Here, the emphasis is on activities that chiefly benefit the Dutch economy and employment. The category also includes countries with which the Netherlands used to have an aid relationship, which has now become a trade relationship that benefits both parties. The Netherlands has a trade relationship with Colombia, South Africa and Vietnam, among others.

A Multi-Annual Strategic Plan for every partner country

The Netherlands has 15 partner countries in total. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (BZ) draws up Multi-Annual Strategic Plans setting out the details of development cooperation policy in each country. It also publishes annual reports on the details of development achieved in each country.