Minister Sigrid Kaag hopes on EU/US dialogue to avert Trade War


Minister Sigrid Kaag for Foreign Trade does not want to call it a party, but she sees it as an honor. On 4 and 5 June 2019, a large American business conference will be held on Dutch soil. “It is good news: it shows the Netherlands on an international trade forum as a trading country and we join forces with the Americans. That is good for the dialogue between and the ties with the US. And for companies. ”

Out of the total of 1800 global entrepreneurs, investors and scientists who invite the Americans, 200 will soon be allowed to come from the Netherlands. In any case, there are large companies such as Philips and Rabobank, but also Brainport Eindhoven and many start-ups. “We encourage some companies to sign up and, after a jury assessment, we invite formally with the US. It is not like with concert tickets where the first ones get tickets in the queue, you are really being screened. ”

Companies must also have something to offer on this ‘market place for entrepreneurs’ – preferably in the area of ​​sustainability. Start-ups can come into contact with investors, companies can show good ideas. “You make new contacts and new contracts,” says Kaag. There is a price tag: the Netherlands puts 15 million euros in the organization of the conference. “The cost goes for the benefit.” Does the Netherlands deliver the equivalent or more? ,, Oh yes, I do not worry about that for a moment. Although I can not predict the exact amount. “” The US pays the bill for travel and accommodation costs for most participants.

The Netherlands as the first European country to organize the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) is the result of the meeting that Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Kaag had last summer in the White House. The groundwork of the ninth edition of the prestigious American business congress had been behind the scenes for weeks. Shortly after the visit to Trump, the final green light came.

In the same period, the trade dispute between the US and the EU flared up. The US president accuses countries of cheap dumping steel and increased import tariffs for steel and aluminum. Kaag urged the European Commissioner Cecilia Malmström (Trade) to emphasize the unintended effects of this measure.

“The Americans also meet [the interests of] their own companies. There are many American customers who rely on high-quality steel or aluminum, which is only produced in the Netherlands, for example. These American companies are now also going to pay more because of the high rates. The Americans are more sensitive to those kinds of arguments. “

Kaag looks ‘differently in a different way’ towards the trade dispute. “Even with your best ally, you can have a difference of opinion. Protectionist language is simply bad for world trade. We are totally loyal to the other EU Member States and the European Commission. We see it differently than the Americans. But that does not mean that you do not have to join forces with the Americans, especially if there is a long history and shared interests. For example, we want to reform the World Trade Organization, but not – as Trump wants – to abort. I hope for a break in which we can discuss the problems. ”

Does the D66 minister think that the close cooperation between the US and the Netherlands around the GES can also have a beneficial effect on trade between the country and the EU? ,, You always have to expect the good. But it is not that we suddenly solve the trade dispute by organizing such a conference. ”

However, Kaag hopes to get the Netherlands as an attractive location on the map. Shortly after the departure of the United Kingdom, on 29 March 2019, the Netherlands wants to present itself as a gateway to Europe. “The message we want to throw into the world with such a big conference is also: hey, we are there and do not just trade elsewhere, but are also effective and efficient as a host country.”

The location will be the World Forum in The Hague, well calculated for large groups of people and, emphasizes Kaag, well secure. It is not for nothing that in 2014 the Nuclear Security Summit, where the then American President Barack Obama made his appearance, was organized there. The GES is planned just before the 75th commemoration of D-Day in France. “With that, we give the opportunity to American representation at the highest possible level.”

It is certain that the US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, makes his appearance, but it is hoped that President Trump himself also visits the American business congress. The previous edition, in India, was chaired by his daughter Ivanka. “We really do not know yet”, Kaag implores. “I also heard about that flag “, she says with a reference to the American D-Day flag that the Rotterdam collector Bert Kreuk has prepared for Trump. “But I dare not say anything about it. It would be a nice moment.”

By: Leah Kunze

Leah Kunze just graduated MBA and is proud of it. She is interested in automotive industry and innovations. She well be glad to receive a mail to

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