Good afternoon everybody.
Thank you Ambassador and thank you Liesje for this excellent speech and also a special thank you to the Dutch government for organizing this event. I think it will be very successful. Good to see you all here.
What I would start by saying is welcome to Tobacco Dock. It is a symbol of our commercial past. It’s a modern building now, but I think if you could imagine 200 years ago what it would have looked like, full of barrels being shipped from all over the world – some definitely from the Netherlands.
Today, it’s great to see it filled not with barrels but with people, and especially companies that help shape our shared economic future. The future of the UK and the Netherlands is aligned. Our success is based on the success of everyone.
It’s wonderful to see you all here, as that’s the symbolic nature of the constant flow of Dutch businesses moving to the UK.
Last year, Heineken and chemical company DSM pumped tens of millions of pounds into their UK operations, creating hundreds of jobs…
And smaller Dutch companies, in some of the sectors represented here today, such as e-bike manufacturers Van Moof and Ebke, are also investing on this side of the North Sea.
The UK and the Netherlands traded nearly £88 billion worth of goods and services in the year ending March, making the Netherlands our fourth largest trading partner.
And according to our most recent calculations, Dutch companies account for more than 10% of this country’s foreign direct investment.
But, as we see today, we can do more.
I want you to know that we want companies like yours, pioneers in new forms of transportation, AI, and data analytics, to thrive in our country.
Why? First, because you will help spur growth that will support our long-term economic security for both countries.
Secondly, because your ideas and expertise will maintain the UK’s place as a technology frontrunner, helping us to prepare for the future in the face of a changing world.
But I must stress that it is not a one-way street because we also have something to offer.
In return, we can offer you one of the best places in the world for an innovative business.
We have four of the best universities in the world.
We have a dynamic and growing talent pool…
We have committed, as part of our National Infrastructure Strategy, to investing in roads, railways and internet connections, making it easier for businesses to start and thrive in the UK and the Netherlands .
And we have created a pro-ambition, pro-enterprise regulatory environment.
We’re also looking at how we can unlock opportunities in some of your industries today:
For example, last year we launched our AI strategy, which outlines how we will support the industry and leverage its advances.
I’m sure my international trade team at the back of the room will be happy to talk more about it.
It’s a great team. Over the past three years, they have helped Dutch companies invest in dozens of projects in this country, creating more than 8,000 jobs.
Of course, today is also a reminder of the strength of the Anglo-Dutch relationship.
Britain’s prosperity is no accident.
It was built through a commitment to democracy, free markets and strong, mutually beneficial partnerships, like the one we share with the Netherlands.
We’re both monarchies, longtime allies, and our friendship spanned from the era of Erasmus to the era of AI.
For many years now, British expats have been settling each other in the countryside.
Our universities welcome students from both sides of the North Sea and our academic collaborations, such as that between the universities of York and Maastricht, advance knowledge in critical areas like medical technology and data science.
The UK and the Netherlands work together to make the world a better place.
For more than six decades, our Royal Navy has prepared a large number of Royal Dutch Navy warships so that they are ready for operations around the world.
Today, we stand together for freedom by imposing economic sanctions on Russia following its invasion of Ukraine…and our companies are collaborating on great clean energy projects that will help us keep the light on.
We don’t have many differences. But like all good friends, when we have problems, we solve them.
So, I know there is great potential for our relationship to reach new heights.
As two lifelong friends with a passion for enterprise, innovation and independence…we have a real opportunity to create an even deeper and more productive business partnership that will serve both of us well into the future. .
I just discussed our common priorities with Liesje during our meeting earlier.
And I look forward to continuing the conversation about how we can make our cooperation even easier.
I will end by saying that this trade mission is the latest in a long list of pioneering and productive collaborations between our nations…
In the 16th century, the Dutch philosopher Erasmus discussed with the English scholar Sir Thomas More ideas that would shape our societies.
In the 19th century, Vincent van Gogh drew inspiration from his time in London to paint and influenced countless artists around the world.
And your companies, with their incredible advances, show how together we can push the boundaries of progress in the 21st.
Her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth once said that our nations are: Innovators, traders and internationalists.
This has been true for five centuries. And from everything I’ve seen here today, I know that’s more the case now than ever before.
So I wish you all a fantastic trade mission. And all the success for the future. Thanks.