Keynote Speech by H.E. Li Keqiang
Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China
At the China-Netherlands Business Forum
The Hague, 16 October 2018
Prime Minister Mark Rutte,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my great pleasure to join you at the China-Netherlands Business Forum in this beautiful city of The Hague. On behalf of the Chinese government, I wish to offer warm congratulations on the opening of the Forum and extend sincere thanks to people of all walks of life who have long been committed to the friendship and cooperation between China and the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
This year has seen many highlights in China-Netherlands relations. In February, President Xi Jinping met with His Majesty the King who visited China. The meeting provided further guidance to and boosted the growth of our bilateral ties. With the official visit to China by Prime Minister Mark Rutte in April and my visit to the Netherlands this time, we made an exchange of visits at the head-of-government level within a year. Such frequent high-level interactions have lent fresh impetus to our relations defined as an open and pragmatic partnership for comprehensive cooperation.
Being one of the earliest achievers of modernization, the Netherlands can be rightly proud of its accomplishments in many areas. It is the birthplace of the world’s first share-holding company, first stock exchange and first modern bank. It boasts one of the world’s highest per capita GDPs, and ranks as the fifth, the sixth, and the second largest exporter of goods, services and agriculture produce and food respectively. It is home to a great many well-known companies and brands, with half of its companies actively engaged in innovation. Just now I was given a presentation of some of the leading hi-tech products of this country, which left me deeply impressed by the scientific and technological prowess and industrial capabilities of the Netherlands.
Although our countries are far apart geographically, friendly interactions between our peoples go back centuries. As early as in the 17th century, Dutch merchants brought Chinese porcelain, tea and silk to Europe. Our cooperation has come a long way since the establishment of diplomatic ties, especially in recent years. The Netherlands has been among China’s top three trading partners in the EU since the year 2000, with two-way trade projected to approach US$90 billion this year. We each have about US$20 billion of investment stock in the other’s market. Eleven out of the 15 Dutch Fortune 500 companies have invested in China, and the Netherlands is now China’s second largest investment destination in the EU.
We owe such fruitful economic ties to our shared adherence to the principles of mutual respect and equality, to our commitment to openness, inclusiveness and mutual benefit, and to our tireless pursuit of pragmatism, enterprise and innovation. With so many business leaders present, let me say the growth of trade and economic cooperation between our two countries is, to a large measure, down to the hard work and wisdom of our business communities.
Yesterday, I had productive talks with Prime Minister Rutte. We reached important common understanding in wide-ranging areas. Given the strong foundation, enormous potential and great prospect of our cooperation, there is every reason that we should redouble our efforts to further broaden, deepen and elevate China-Netherlands cooperation.
We need to make the pie of our trade bigger. As China-Netherlands trade only accounts for 1.5% of the combined trade volume of our two countries, there is considerable space for further expansion. China is keen to import more manufactured industrial products, advanced equipment and quality agricultural produce from the Netherlands. This will better meet the needs of Chinese consumers and be conducive to industrial upgrading in China. The first-ever China International Import Expo will open soon. We look forward to the active participation of Dutch companies to showcase your capabilities and I wish you hefty orders in advance. Chinese products offer good value for money; over 70% of Chinese exports to this country are through entrep