Official opening of Dutch trade office in Ivory Coast

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has opened a trade office in Abidjan, the economic capital of Ivory Coast. The aim is to help the Dutch business community make the most of the rapid economic growth. Its national economy is one of the fastest-growing in the world and one of the most dynamic in West Africa. The trade office was officially opened by the Dutch ambassador, Hans Docter, in the presence of a Dutch business delegation currently in Ivory Coast on a trade mission.

Foreign trade and development cooperation minister Lilianne Ploumen is enthusiastic about the new office. ‘it will open doors for the Dutch business sector in West Africa. Currently, almost a quarter of Ivory Coast's cocoa goes to the Netherlands. And there are plenty more opportunities out there, particularly in port development and agriculture,’ the minister said. She also hopes that the new trade office will strengthen efforts to make the cocoa sector more sustainable. The Netherlands is working to achieve this objective through partners like the Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH) and the international NGO, Solidaridad. For the time being, the trade office is being staffed by a ‘laptop diplomat’ under the direction of the Dutch embassy in Accra.

The delegation of almost 20 Dutch companies currently visiting Ivory Coast is focused on cocoa and port development. Ivory Coast is the biggest exporter of cocoa to the Netherlands and much of it is shipped through the ports in the west of the country. The trade mission has been organised in association with the Netherlands-African Business Council (NABC) and the Amsterdam Port Authority, and is headed by the Dutch ambassador, whose district includes Ghana, Togo, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

The Dutch companies hope that the trade mission will enable them to benefit from port development opportunities in Ivory Coast and to further strengthen good relations in the cocoa sector. In 2013, the Dutch embassy signed an agreement in support of the Port Development Partnership, which involves 18 Dutch businesses and institutions.