Toespraak Minister Schouten tijdens de opening van de virtuele handelsmissie Mexico
Tijdens de opening van de virtuele handelsmissie naar Mexico verzorgde minister Schouten op 3 november 2020 het openingsstatement. Daarnaast is tijdens de opening een 'Memorandum of Understanding' ondertekend. De toespraak is alleen in het Engels beschikbaar.
Good morning Mexico! And good afternoon to everyone joining us from the Netherlands.
Over the past year, we’ve all become experts at holding virtual meetings. Not only citizens and companies, but governments too have demonstrated their most creative skills. It is in keeping with this spirit of flexibility and improvisation that we decided to organise this virtual trade mission. I hope it will bring us together, and strengthen the already close horticultural ties between Mexico and the Netherlands.
Our shared experience of living with a dangerous virus has already made us feel more connected. COVID-19 has radically changed life in both our countries. And we’re also more aware than ever of the importance of good, healthy food that is widely available. Food is business, but it’s also much more than that. Food brings people together. These times of physical distancing have made us value more than ever the joy of eating together. Seeing each other face to face, instead of gazing at a screen. Smelling and tasting good food. Like the delicious vegetables that Mexico grows and exports: tomatoes, avocados, green peppers, limes and cucumbers.
In recent years Mexico has become a global player in food exports. With the signing of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, exports to North America are likely to increase.
Europe is also a big market for Mexico. Take Mexican avocados, which are imported largely via the Netherlands and find their way to tables across Europe. Part of Mexico’s growth as an agricultural country can be attributed to its strategic use of Dutch knowledge.
Some 60 Dutch companies are currently active in the Mexican horticulture sector. Especially companies in greenhouse technology and plant breeders. The Dutch horticulture sector is at the forefront of sustainability and the efficient use of water, energy, minerals and fertilisers. Dutch entrepreneurs are backed by world-class research, both in Mexico and the Netherlands, and can also rely on government support. Because the Dutch government firmly believes that there’s no future for agriculture unless it’s sustainable. We’re happy to partner with countries that want to take the same road.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The COVID-19 pandemic has dealt a severe blow to our economies. Nevertheless, Mexico’s agriculture sector experienced growth in the first half of this year. That’s why Dutch horticultural entrepreneurs in Mexico are still very positive about the developments and opportunities on the Mexican market. I’m confident that this virtual trade mission will lead to new forms of cooperation. In these difficult times, let’s hold on to the forward-looking mindset that we share.
Closure / shout out
Congratulations to World Horti Center and Ceickor on the signing of their Memorandum of Understanding. This partnership shows us how – together – we can move our horticulture sectors in a more sustainable direction. That’s exactly what this trade mission is all about.
Some people regard Dutch agriculture as a finished building. But in fact we’re renovating, because we’re looking for a new kind of agriculture − one that is more in balance with nature. We’re devising all kinds of ways to be sustainable. And in all of this, circularity is key. Circular agriculture is a collective search for the best combination of ecological principles and modern technology. It aims to minimise the impact on the environment, nature and the climate.
In a world in which countries are so connected, there’s no point looking for solutions on your own. So let’s join forces and use this virtual trade mission as a springboard towards sustainable agricultural and trade relations. I wish you all a successful mission. Meanwhile, I look forward to the day that we’ll be able to meet face to face again, and enjoy a delicious dinner together.