Speech by Prime Minister Mark Rutte at the networking lunch in Hanoi

Short speech by Prime Minister Mark Rutte at the networking lunch in Hanoi on 17 June 2014.

Deputy Prime Minister Hai, Ladies and gentlemen,

Welcome to this networking lunch.

The clue is in the name. We’re here to network. To encourage new, successful business ventures by giving entrepreneurs a chance to meet and explore opportunities together. And one thing’s certain: these opportunities exist. Because the economic ties between Vietnam and the Netherlands are booming.

Of all the EU member states, the Netherlands is the biggest investor in Vietnam and its third-biggest trading partner. A hundred and twenty Dutch firms already operate in your country and many others are ready to follow their example. In the last decade, trade between the Netherlands and Vietnam has increased nearly tenfold, to 3.6 billion dollars.

In the past few days I’ve seen Vietnam’s energy with my own eyes. In this vibrant country, the spirit of enterprise is everywhere. Even during the recent global crisis, Vietnam’s growth has been solid. And international economic integration has been a cornerstone of national policy for years now.

Today, Vietnam is a dynamic emerging market with major potential. As you know, I’ve come to Vietnam with a large business delegation of well-known Dutch companies that are keen to work with Vietnam. And to judge by our warm reception, the feeling is mutual.

The businesspeople here today represent the best my country has to offer in the fields of water and maritime affairs, agri-food, horticulture, energy and logistics. Some of them have been doing business in Vietnam for years now and they’re enthusiastic about the experience. But they also tell us about the challenges companies face.

And of course, it can be hard to stay committed to international integration, and not to create trade barriers at times of economic or political challenges. But I’m confident that if we consolidate our excellent bilateral ties we can overcome these challenges.

Today we’re here to expand existing networks and build new ones. Despite the economic challenges in recent years, our trade and investment volumes are still growing. That shows how well we work together. We are strategic partners in many fields.

Rest assured that the Dutch government will continue to support this partnership wherever we can. Or, if you’ll allow me a World Cup metaphor: we’ll prepare the pitch so that you can score the goals.

Thank you.