Prime Minister Rutte on trade mission to China

Prime Minister Mark Rutte is on a trade mission to China from 24 to 29 March 2015. He is being joined for part of the visit by Wilma Mansveld, the Minister for the Environment, and accompanied by a delegation of over 70 Dutch business representatives.

The goal of the mission is to strengthen diplomatic and economic ties between the Netherlands and China. The Netherlands is China's third-largest European trade partner. In 2014, mutual trade between the two countries totalled almost €44 billion. The business delegation will be based in the cities of Shanghai and Shenzhen.

During his trip, the Prime Minister will also attend the Boao Forum for Asia, an annual conference for government leaders, international researchers and businesses.

‘Opening doors and closing deals’

The Prime Minister officially launched the four-day mission yesterday in Shanghai, China’s largest and most affluent city. The region has a lot to offer Dutch businesses, with more than 500 already operating in the area. ‘Even so, there are plenty of opportunities to step up existing partnerships or enter into new ones. And at the same time, it’s important for the Dutch economy that we attract Chinese investors by emphasising the favourable business climate the Netherlands can offer. So I was delighted to launch our trade mission this afternoon. Over the next few days we will be helping companies to do business – quite literally, by opening doors and closing deals,’ the Prime Minister said.

Thirty agreements signed: boost for jobs in the Netherlands

In the evening Mr Rutte attended a meeting of more than 500 representatives of Dutch and Chinese businesses. ‘I am delighted to tell you that more than 30 contracts and agreements between Dutch and Chinese businesses have just been signed,’ he said at the close of the event. ‘This is exactly what Ms Mansveld and I have come here to do: open doors for Dutch companies through our contacts so they can close deals. And that’s good for jobs in the Netherlands.’

Dutch entrepreneurs

The second day of the trade mission began with a working breakfast, where Mr Rutte met with ten Dutch start-ups in Shanghai. ‘One company is trying to develop a taste in China for apple pie, while another is launching an online department store,’ the Prime Minister said. ‘There’s an architect who’s identified opportunities in Shanghai, and someone else is setting up a nursery. The list goes on. They’re all enthusiastic businesspeople who’ve spotted an opportunity and are grabbing it with both hands. But it’s also good to hear about the challenges they face.’

He also visited the offices of Philips in Shanghai, and the Dutch business Vanderlande, which is responsible for baggage handling at Shanghai airport. ‘I’m really proud to be surrounded by so much typical Dutch entrepreneurial spirit while being so far from home.’

Sustainable relationship

At the end of the second day, the trade mission travelled to Shenzhen, also known as ‘the Silicon Valley of hardware’. 'There are great business opportunities to be found here,’ the Prime Minister said. 'What I’ve learned is that in China, it’s all about investing in sustainable relationships. So this won't be my last trade mission here. I'll certainly be back with more Dutch businesses,' he concluded.

Great news for Dutch employment

The Prime Minister's third day began with a matchmaking forum to link Dutch and Chinese businesses. 'I’m always fascinated to see how entrepreneurs from different corners of the globe manage to seek each other out’, Mr Rutte said. The Prime Minister subsequently visited two Chinese firms that are world leaders in the field of technology: Huawei and DJI. DJI recently decided to establish their European headquarters in the Dutch town of Barendrecht. And Huawei announced that they would be basing their new European logistical centre for all their ICT products in Eindhoven. 'This is great news for local employment,' said the Prime Minister enthusiastically.

Looking back, the Prime Minister concluded that the trade mission to China had been a success. 'For the past three days the trade delegation and I have been able to open a number of doors, sign over 50 agreements and welcome investment by Chinese companies in the Netherlands. Our trade relations are becoming stronger and stronger,’ Mr Rutte said.

On Saturday the Prime Minister has been invited by the President of China, Xi Jinping, to attend the Boao Forum, an annual meeting at which government leaders, businesses, international experts and researchers meet to promote cooperation within the Asian region and beyond.