Speech by Prime Minister Mark Rutte in China

Speech by Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte at a signing ceremony and reception in Beijing on 15 November 2013.

Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
I would also like to welcome you and thank you for coming this evening. It is good to have this chance to meet.
I have just come from a dinner with President Xi Jinping.
We had a long talk about the good working partnership between our countries.
And about all the opportunities for making that partnership even stronger. Not least in the economic arena.
So what could be better than to talk straight away to the very companies and research institutions that can capitalise on these opportunities?
Very shortly, no less than five cooperation agreements will be signed here.
Together they are a fine example of what our countries have to offer each other.
They cover a range of sectors and themes: aviation, chemicals, flowers, LED lighting and the financial sector.
I think this wide range of subjects highlights the success of economic cooperation between China and the Netherlands.
And let us not underestimate the importance of that cooperation.
The Netherlands is China's second-biggest trading partner in the European Union.
The volume of trade between our countries was almost 40 billion euros in 2012.
Between 2004 and 2012, Dutch investments in China increased almost tenfold, to 12 billion euros.
Around one thousand Dutch companies now operate in China.
While over 350 Chinese companies have set up shop in the Netherlands. And on both sides the numbers are rising.
The differences between our two countries - even if only in terms of size - are bridged by what unites us: an enterprising spirit, a business mindset, and a pragmatic, result-focused approach.
This underpins our countries' joint success.
The Netherlands is a small country doing big business.
We are the 17th-biggest economy and the world's second- biggest agricultural exporter.
A quick look at the map shows that this is no mean achievement.
In fields like agri-food, life sciences and water technology, Dutch firms are among the global leaders.
And as the gateway to Europe, the Netherlands plays an important role in the world economy.
Almost half of China's exports to Europe enter via the port of Rotterdam or Amsterdam Airport.
Looking in the opposite direction, the Netherlands has great respect for the lightning pace of China's development.
Everything here is expressed in big numbers: 1.3 billion inhabitants, over 120 cities with over one million people, and growth figures that have been about 10 per cent for decades.
In four decades your country has become the world's second-largest economy.
And with your consistently high growth figures it seems only a matter of time before you are number one.
This massive achievement has lifted hundreds of millions of Chinese out of poverty.
On the global stage too, China is assuming a role that befits its status of economic and political superpower.
The Netherlands has a high regard for China's contribution.
Soon our countries will stand shoulder-to-shoulder in the UN mission in Mali.
And in the fight against international piracy we are also working towards a common goal.
We greatly value this cooperation.
At the same time, China's rapid economic rise also poses new challenges.
The same challenges we often face in Europe, but sometimes in a different form.
For instance, how can we use state-of-the-art infrastructure to keep our cities and industrial centres accessible?
How can we make sure that the air we breathe, the food we eat and the water we drink are clean and safe?
And what effect will our rapidly aging population have on health care?
In tackling these challenges, it is good to hear about each other's experiences and solutions.
We are keen to learn from you.
And the Netherlands has very specific knowledge in some of these fields that we would be pleased to share.
Ladies and gentlemen, the exciting story of China's rise as a global economic power is captivating the world.
And the Netherlands is very able and more than willing to join China on this historic journey.
Good and frequent contacts at the highest political level are very important in this regard.
But it's businesses like yours - big and small - that make a difference in today's economies.
It's business people like you that take risks and make things happen. Your partnerships and your success will not only shape the future of your own company but the development of both our countries.
I am very keen to hear what you have to say.
What opportunities exist?
What barriers do we still need to take away?
What is your view on building an even closer working relationship between our two countries?
Ladies and gentlemen, the floor is yours.
Thank you.