Toespraak minister-president Mark Rutte tijdens het handelsmissiediner in Boston

De toespraak is alleen beschikbaar in het Engels.

Thank you Henne, for your introduction.

And thank you, Governor Baker.

It’s a real pleasure for me to be here in the beautiful city of Boston, capital of the Bay State. The spectacular views speak for themselves, don’t they?

Ladies and gentlemen,

As a history graduate, my heart always starts to beat a little faster when we talk about the shared history of the United States and the Netherlands. After all, there are so many great stories to tell. I’ll try to contain myself, but I can’t ignore the fact that this city and this state have a prominent place in that history.

No one embodies that more than John Adams: principal author of the Massachusetts Constitution, Founding Father and second President of the United States.

In 1780 he travelled to the Netherlands to seek financial support for the American Revolution. Although famous for their money-making mentality, the Dutch definitely preferred a sound investment to a risky bet. And a risky bet it was, lending money to an upstart American republic striving for independence. But after 2 years of deliberation, with John Adams growing more and more frustrated, bankers from Amsterdam finally decided to loan him five million guilders.

It was an astronomical sum at the time, and a much-needed helping hand for a young America. It was an early signal of trust, which resonated across the ocean. A gesture of goodwill that turned Adams’s frustration into appreciation. In that same year he opened the first American embassy on foreign soil in my hometown of The Hague, and became the first American ambassador to the Netherlands. It proved to be a solid foundation for the bond between our 2 countries. A bond that’s now reflected in America’s oldest trade relationship in the world. Or to put it more simply: we go way back.

And after so many years our friendship is still alive and kicking. We can rightly say that our relationship works – quite literally. In the state of Massachusetts alone, the economic ties between our countries support almost 50,000 jobs. And that figure increases massively when we look beyond the borders of the Bay State. Today, trade and investment between our countries supports 825,000 jobs in the US as a whole. And it’s an upward trend: in the last decade almost 200,000 extra jobs were created. If we continue down this road in the coming years, we should soon reach the magic number of one million. One million American jobs, as a tangible result of our economic ties. I can’t think of a more inspiring target to aim for!

And that’s exactly why we’re here today. More than 80 businesses, knowledge institutions and individual entrepreneurs have crossed the ocean to explore every opportunity presented by the bond between our 2 countries. But why here? Well, the Netherlands and Boston, the Netherlands and Massachusetts, have a lot in common. We share challenges, economic interests and beliefs. Which means we have a lot to offer each other.

Take the topic ‘life sciences and health’ – 1 of the focal points of our trade mission. Boston is home to many world-class institutions and businesses, leading the development of life-saving medicines, better disease detection and more advanced e-health technologies. Especially in the Kendall Square neighbourhood, across the Charles River. Often called the ‘most innovative square mile on the planet’, it attracts business and investment from all over the world. It’s no coincidence that in 2020 Royal Philips will open its North American headquarters there, and spend almost half its R&D budget of 1.9 billion dollars there.

And Kendall Square is also a source of inspiration back in the Netherlands. Take the development of the Leiden Bio Science Park, close to my hometown of The Hague. With over 200 businesses involved in all stages of the development of new medicines, the Leiden Bio Science Park is now one of the main hotspots for life sciences and health innovation in Europe.

And the recent move of the European Medicines Agency to Amsterdam gives an extra boost to our vibrant life sciences and health sector, reinforcing our position as the natural gateway to Europe. To me this shows  the importance of learning from each other, making new connections and joining forces – which is precisely the aim of this trade mission.

The same goes for the field of robotics and artificial intelligence. I understand that the state of Massachusetts aspires to make Boston the 'robotics cluster' of the Northeast. The Dutch also have a high-tech innovation hub: Brainport Eindhoven. Located in the southeast of the country, it ranks among the smartest regions in the world. It’s 1 of several places in the Netherlands which are incubators for inventions that change the way we live. Incubators that gave us, for example, WiFi and Bluetooth, both of which are Dutch inventions.

And Dutch businesses are working hard on the innovations of tomorrow in the fields of retail, logistics, manufacturing and precision robotics. Some of the world’s top players – like NXP and Ahold – are from the Netherlands, and they are all represented here today. So in this area, too, I believe that together we can make new connections and push the boundaries.

Another parallel is the battle against rising sea levels and adaptation to climate change. The city of Boston is working hard to make the city ‘climate ready’: prepared for extreme heat, rain, snow, drought and flooding. Over half of the Netherlands lies at sea level or below, so we’ve been working for centuries to protect ourselves against the water. For us, it’s always been a matter of life and death. But over the centuries this battle has given us a big advantage. Thanks to the experience and expertise we’ve built up, we’ve turned a challenge into an asset. And we’re keen to help other countries around the globe manage water and adapt to climate change. So I’m pleased to see that Dutch companies One Architecture & Urbanism and Arcadis are already involved in implementing parts of the ‘Climate Ready Boston’ plan.

So yes, taking all these parallels into account, I’m sure there’s great potential for us to expand the economic ties between the Netherlands and the Boston region. I hope this trade mission will help us seize these opportunities, and bring us closer to that magic number of one million US jobs created by our mutual trade and investment. The signing of several MoUs proves that our efforts are already bearing fruit. But besides the hard numbers, I hope we can add to the success stories generated by the bond between the US and the Netherlands. Because, as a graduate of history, I love to look back on our countries’ shared past. But as a politician, I’d like even more to add a great new chapter to it.

Ladies and gentlemen, let’s raise our glasses to an enjoyable evening and a successful trade mission!