Wopke Hoekstra, Foreign Minister, Netherlands | Photo Credit: BART MAAT
Netherlands plans bilateral investment protection agreement with India
Netherlands hopes to have a bilateral investment protection agreement (BIPA) with India. In an interaction with visiting journalists, Wopke Hoekstra, Foreign Minister, Netherlands, discussed issues ranging from investment protection agreement to the Russian attack on Ukraine. Excerpts:
Netherlands is the fifth-largest foreign investor in India. What are your thoughts on having a bilateral investment protection agreement with India? Is there any progress or any timeline that you could suggest for having a new agreement?
Sometimes these things take longer, even if everyone is working very diligently on it. I have been a Minister of Finance for four years and, therefore, I know from experience that any type of treaty even among the closest of friends, sometimes does take quite a while to get to change and to improve. What I would very much hope, and the same is true for the whole Cabinet here, is that we create these types of arrangements with India
How do you expect the India EU FTA to affect the relationship between India and the Netherlands?
We would very much support a free trade agreement between the EU and India, because our assessment is that it would give an additional impulse to our already excellent bilateral relationship. Our business relationship is of tremendous importance, but I think a broader EU-India FTA will also provide more opportunities for India towards the whole European continent. And if there’s anything that I could do, that the Dutch government could do, in facilitating that, and helping all that, we would, of course, be delighted to do so. These things, in my view, are truly a win-win. It is increasing the size by making sure that both nations benefit and, in this case, if you would, if we would come to any agreement with you that would also mean the 27-plus, of course, India will benefit and it will be for the better of our two nations, it will have all the nations involved and will be better for all the citizens involved. Of course, that is what we should always have in mind how do we make sure we create more prosperity, more stability and a better brighter future for the next generation
India has strong reservations on opening up the dairy sector, while dairy is the top export sector for the Netherlands. How do you see the matter getting resolved?
Dairy is an area in that we have a long-standing tradition, we have a lot of expertise. We are humbled that many countries across the world in Africa and Asia make use of the export of our dairy products, be it milk or cheese, or all sorts of things that are related to dairy. If in that specific area we could increase our collaboration, then I will be delighted to do so. There is a great opportunity in the sector. Dairy is, as many of us know, vital for the young ones and also for toddlers, youngsters, people of our age, but also the elderly. So, if there is an opportunity, then let’ seek to make the most of it.
India has a a long relationship with the Netherlands, which is 75 years now. But now there’s a crisis also in this region, with India abstaining from voting against Russia at the UN. Because of this, does the relationship get affected in any manner?
To us the relationship with India is of vital importance. India is truly one of the geopolitical powers in the world. We are truly very impressed also by the business sense. All the developments that we’ve seen in the last couple of decades are truly very impressive. So, to the Netherlands, and also to the EU, the relationship is of vital importance. Second, to me, it is crystal clear that if you look at all the assets that India has, and what it is providing to the world, it is clearly one of the nations playing a very, very important role at the world stage. And what we would, of course, hope is that India would also want to engage on topics that are clearly front and center in the newspapers, given the current crisis. I have an excellent relationship and a great dialogue with Minister S Jaishankar. And what we hope, generally speaking, is that all peace-loving nations, nations that are fighting for stability, for peace, for democracy, for prosperity like India, Netherlands and like so many others, that we also make clear to everyone that this is not only important in Ukraine, this is not only important in the regions bordering on Ukraine, but this is vital interest for the future of the of the world. And that is something that I underline in all my bilateral contacts. And I’m also very much looking forward to continuing this important and by the way, extremely fruitful dialogue with India
The Indian President is coming to visit this country. What can we expect from this visit?
For me what is the most important thing, it is testimony to our friendship and testimony to our partnership. And it articulates once again, for us but hopefully also for our friends in India, how tremendously important the relationship is from an economic perspective, from a geopolitical perspective, from a perspective of countries that are like minded in their desire to make sure that democracies prosper. We are only a tiny little democracy compared to India, but it is something that we clearly share, and we also clearly share a desire to make the world a better and more stable place. And for us, this is not only a testimony, but it is also a signal to our friendship and a clear investment that the both countries intend to make in making a great friendship and a great relationship even better. And some things might actually materialise during the state visit. But these things in my opinion, in my experience, are always catalysts for more to come. It is almost like pushing a fast forward button on economic topics, on diplomatic topics, on tax treaties, many of these things, it basically means It’s a signal to all our staff and to our nation, to our business community that we are dead serious about this, that we want to make the most of it. And that is also why I’m so delighted that we have the two heads of state being together and making sure we make the most of the whole program.
(The correspondent is in Netherlands on the invitation of the Netherlands Government)