Toespraak staatssecretaris De Vries bij het werkbezoek van de president van Costa Rica

Toespraak van staatssecretaris De Vries (Financiën) bij het werkbezoek van de president van Costa Rica op 22 maart 2023 te Rotterdam. De toespraak is alleen in het Engels beschikbaar.

Het gesproken woord geldt.

Mister President, First Lady, your excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

It is good to have you here, in The Netherlands,in the port of Rotterdam.


Costa Rica and the Netherlands are somewhat similar. In terms of surface area, we are in the same range, both countries score high on the World Happiness Report, and both belong to the exclusive category of countries whose names say something about their geography:

Costa Rica - Rich Coast - and The Nether Lands - or: The Low Countries.

We have more in common than might appear at first glance. Let me mention one more - the reason that you visit us today: both countries have important ports, through which many goods pass.

If we look at both our countries, we are talking mainly about fruit, which comes from your country to ours. We are very happy about that, because our climate allows only limited fruit cultivation. And with the fruit that is transshipped here, contributes to our economy and jobs. 

But importing and transshipping fruit also brings undesirable activities. I'm talking, of course, about the drug trade.

The scope and casualties of this problem have drastic consequences. Here in Rotterdam alone, we intercepted 50,000 kilos of cocaine last year.

But the consequences extend beyond the ports. Young boys who should be at school are recruited by criminals to empty containers, and residential areas become unsafe because of drug labs.

Innocent businesses are unwittingly dragged into it, and people are murdered: a lawyer, a journalist - in broad daylight, on the street.

The consequences of drug trafficking are disruptive to society and affect the functioning of our democracy.

This is unacceptable. We must put all efforts in stopping these drug gangs. And that is what we are doing.

The Netherlands and Costa Rica signed a treaty in 2018 that provides the legal basis for information exchange between the two countries' customs organizations. This treaty entered into force on April 1, 2022, and has been used several times since then to exchange information.

Last year, customs organizations in both countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding that includes a commitment to strengthen cooperation. In addition, a liaison on behalf of Customs Netherlands will be placed in your region next summer. This liaison will actively cooperate with the customs authorities and other relevant enforcement agencies of your country.

A request for accreditation for his work in Costa Rica will be submitted to you through our colleagues at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Embassy in San José. I hope that this request will be met.

As governments, we are already doing a lot. But we cannot do this alone. We need all parties. That is why we are working more and more intensively with the business community.

For example, discussions with shipping companies have resulted in the fact that we can now inspect containers at protected locations, making that inspection much more efficient and secure.

These are achievements that are very important in themselves, but which also contribute to another goal: strengthening our trade relations.

We are extremely pleased with the warm trade relationship between Costa Rica and the Netherlands. We cherish that relationship and would like to develop it even further.

Closer cooperation between our customs organizations can help in this regard, to intensify our trade while reducing drug trafficking. You probably agree with me that this is a double edged sword.

Mister President, First Lady, your excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

I am very pleased to have you here, and I am sure your presence here will further strengthen our already close ties.

Thank you!