Toespraak minister Van Ark bij Annual Meeting of the American Chamber of Commerce

Toespraak van minister Van Ark op 11 mei 2021 bij de annual meeting of the American Chamber of Commerce. De tekst is alleen in het Engels beschikbaar.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Over a year ago, no one had even heard of the Covid-19 disease. A disease, which has since swept across the world, taking thousands of lives and locking down many societies, with all sorts of consequences.
Governments needed to step-up in massive investments to address the major health crisis and the deep economic downfall following.

However, a crisis of this magnitude cannot be tackled by governments alone. Something which became clear straight away. And during the most difficult of times, private companies did their utmost! To save lives, secure essential goods, to innovate, to create hope, and keep people employed.

Enormous efforts, which were not only made by healthcare providers, the pharma sector and the medical devices companies. Also by companies, sometimes less visible, however just as crucial in tackling the pandemic and keeping our economies going.

For example, the transportation sector, which kept international supply-chains open.
The tech companies, which developed tools to quickly help address the pandemic.
Companies in for instance the food industry, which made sure there was no shortage of products in our supermarkets. And the list goes on and on.

And I am proud of the swift response by American companies -active in the Netherlands with their international partners - and Dutch companies -active in the US -in close cooperation with our Government. Companies like yours. Some big with a long history and some small, start-ups or scale ups.

I am proud of these public private partnerships. And I hope we can keep it up. Not only to recover from the current pandemic, but also to address the challenges of tomorrow. Challenges like tackling the climate crisis, creating a sustainable economy, and of-course maintaining a solid healthcare system.

Governments as well as private partners benefit from a strong public-private ecosystem for business, innovation and investments. And in my -maybe slightly biased- opinion that is exactly what The Netherlands has to offer: a strong ecosystem for companies to innovate and invest in. Our infrastructure is world class, we have an open and liberal society, and the Dutch have always been focused on cooperating with international partners.

During my career in politics, I have met many people whose quality of life has improved because of the work of companies investing in The Netherlands. Companies like yours.

Some of these people owe their lives to innovative treatments, medicines or medical devices. Others simply have a job with a company they love. So, the public-private ecosystem in The Netherlands is not only a very profitable one, it also makes a difference in people's lives.

Therefore, I strongly believe it is important to further intensify our cooperation. Our countries share more than 400 years of common history. The partnership between The Netherlands and the US is based on the pillars of peace and security, prosperity and sustainable economic growth, and common values.

The importance of the trade and investment relationship with the US can hardly be overstated for The Netherlands. My country is a Top 5 investor in the US, and we are the 8th market for exports from the US.

Dutch investments in the US and exports to The Netherlands account for more than 840,000 jobs in the US. In addition, The Netherlands is the world's largest recipient of direct investment from the US.

Moreover, if the current pandemic taught us anything it is that we need to be prepared for any possible pandemic in the future. That is why the Dutch Life Science and Health Sector is working on a pandemic preparedness plan, which they hope to present later this year. It is a Public Private partnership which could thrive on the excellence in the innovative sectors of both of our countries.

Let us build on the important and close relationship between The United States and The Netherlands. Together we can contribute to being better prepared globally for any future pandemics.

Thank you.