Indo-Dutch contacts go back to more than 400 years. Official relations, which were established in 1947, have been cordial and friendly. India's economic growth, its large market, its pool of knowledge workers are of interest to the Netherlands. The main plank of the bilateral ties has been the strong economic and commercial relations. The two countries also share common ideals of democracy, pluralism and the rule of law. Since the early 1980s, the Dutch Government has identified India as an important economic partner. The bilateral relations underwent further intensification after India’s economic liberalization in the early 1990s. In 2006, former Prime Minister Balkenende's Government declared India, along with China and Russia, as priority countries in Dutch foreign policy. The recent successful visit of the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte to India (5-6 June 2015) has set the stage to take our ties to the next level and realize the full potential of our relationship. Today, relations between India and the Netherlands have become multifaceted and encompass cooperation in various areas.
Political and Economic
The Prime Minister of the Netherlands Mr. Mark Rutte paid an official visit to India on 5-6 June 2015 at the invitation of the Prime Minister of India. Earlier visits to India by the Dutch HOS/G included: Queen Beatrix (1986 & 2007) and Prime Ministers R.F.M. Lubbers (1987 & 1993), Wim Kok (1999) and Jan Peter Balkenende (2006). Her Majesty Queen Maxima visited India in June-July 2014, in her capacity as UN Secretary General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development. Visits to the Netherlands by Indian HOS/G included: Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru (1957); Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi (1985); President R. Venkataraman (1988); and Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh (2004). EAM Shri I.K. Gujral visited the Netherlands in 1990. Foreign Minister Rosenthal visited India in July 2011. Foreign Minister Timmermans visited India in November 2013 on the margins of ASEM FMM. EAM Shri Salman Khurshid led the Indian delegation for the Third Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) hosted by Netherlands in The Hague from 24-25 March 2014. There have been regular Ministerial level visits from both sides (list of visits is attached at Annex. I). A number of Bilateral Agreements and MOUs have been concluded in diverse areas covering economic and commercial cooperation, culture, science and technology and education (list is attached at Annex. II).
There is a mechanism for Foreign Office Consultations (FOCs). The last FOCs took place in May 2015 within one year of the previous FOCs held in June 2014 in New Delhi. Earlier FOCs were held in January 2011 (The Hague) and September 2007 (New Delhi).
In terms of trade and investment, India has strong economic interests in the Netherlands, which is at present the fifth largest investor of FDI into India and is the 28th largest trading partner globally and 6th largest trading partner in the EU after Germany, U.K., Belgium, Italy and France. Trade and investment cooperation is a key component of India-Netherlands relationship and has shown satisfactory growth. Two-way trade has continued to grow steadily and stood at US$ 9.13 billion in 2014-15 with positive balance of trade in favour of India. In the period January-October, 2015, bilateral trade has shown an increase of 10.02% and the trade balance continues to be in favour of India. However, there is a potential for further growth in the trade relations. Netherlands is home to a number of multinational and other companies, many of which have their production sites and business operations in India. It is also a source of useful technical know-how, besides FDI, in a variety of sectors – water management, upgrading of ports and airports, dredging, agro-processing, telecommunication, energy, oil refining, chemicals, and financial services. Presently, there are 174 Indian companies based in the Netherlands, attracted by the Dutch tax system which is transparent, stable and flexible. India’s apex Chamber, ASSOCHAM, has set up an office in the Netherlands in December 2015 as a gateway to Europe.
As per trade figures for the period January-October 2015, the main items of Indian Exports to the Netherlands were: Miscellaneous manufactured goods (18.94%) in which apparels & clothing accounted for 11.21% of our exports; Refined petroleum products 18.78% of our exports; Manufactured goods classified by materials (17.67%) in which iron & steel accounted for 5.39% of our total exports, textile yarn, fabrics and made up articles comprised of 4.46%; Chemicals & related products (14.15%) in which organic chemicals accounted for 7.62% of total exports; Machinery & transport equipment (14.02%) in which electrical machinery accounted for 3.56%, telecommunication equipment accounted for 2.97% of total exports; Food & live animals (10.58%) in which vegetables & fruit accounted for 4.72% of total exports.The main items of Dutch Exports to India were machinery & transport equipment (31.8%) of which transport equipment accounted for 7% of total exports, industrial machinery was 4.9% of total exports and electrical machinery was 5.4% of total exports; Chemicals & related products (29.4%) in which primary plastics accounted for 9.5% of total exports; organic chemicals were 6.1% of the total and chemical materials & products were 6% of total; Crude materials (14.3%) in which scrap of ferrous and non-ferrous metals accounted for 9.6% of total exports; miscellaneous manufactured articles (11%) in which professional, scientific and controlling instruments accounted for 5.3% of total exports and; Manufactured goods classified by materials (9.7%) in which iron & steel accounted for 1.8% of total Dutch exports to India.
The Netherlands is the 5th largest investor in India in terms of FDI inflows with cumulative investments of $15.769 bln comprising 6% of total FDI inflows between the periods of April 2000 to September 2015. During the financial year 2014-15, the Netherlands was the third largest investor and in the current financial year, upto September 2015, it continues to be the third largest investor.
Jet Airways is launching daily non-stop flights to and from Amsterdam, one each from its home hubs in Mumbai and New Delhi as well as one from Toronto in Canada w.e.f. 27 March 2016. This will help connectivity for trade and tourism and further strengthen the economic & commercial relations between the two countries.
Culture and Education
In May 1985, a Cultural Agreement was signed between the two countries, which provides for cooperation and exchanges in education and science, art and culture.
Indian Cultural Centre named “The Gandhi Centre” in The Hague was inaugurated on 2 October 2011. The Centre has sought to promote Indian culture. The Centre conducts a wide range of diverse cultural activities. It has regular Yoga and Tabla classes. Hindi classes are expected to begin in 2016. It also partners with other local Dutch cultural organizations to promote Indian culture.
The first International Day of Yoga was celebrated on 21 June 2015 at the Atrium City Hall of The Hague. Over 600 people from various sections of the society comprising of local Dutch population, Surinami Hindustani community and Indian Diaspora participated at the event with great enthusiasm.
An ICCR-sponsored troupe led by well-known Sarod maestro Shri Basant Kabra visited the Netherlands from 06-10 July. Three successful programmes were organized in the Netherlands during their visit.
Holland India Festival 2015 comprising of three components, viz. Film, Dance and Music, was held in October-November 2015. The highlights were participation of the ICCR-sponsored Kathak Dance troupe led by Ms. Sanjukta Sinha in the Indian Dance Festival and the ICCR-sponsored music troupe of flute maestro Pandit Nityanand Haldipur in the Indian Music Festival. An ICCR-sponsored Sari Exhibition was also held.
There is an ICCR Chair for Contemporary Indian Studies at the Leiden University since September 2011.
The Netherlands has the second largest population of people of Indian origin in Europe, next only to the UK. A 225,000-strong Indian Diaspora (200,000 Surinami-Hindustani community and 25,000 NRIs/PIOs) is an important element that helps foster closer ties with the Netherlands. The Diaspora forms an important link between the two countries and facilitates people-to-people contacts. The decision to implement the e-Tourist Visa scheme from August 15, 2015, as well as Government of India schemes such as Know India Programme, Tracing the Roots Programme, India Corporate Internship Programme etc are some significant initiatives to enhance and deepen such people-to-people contacts. Apart from the Dutch, the Surinami-Hindustani community in the Netherlands evince keen interest in different aspects of Indian culture. Indian Film Festivals, Food Festivals, Music and Dance Shows organized by local organizers are very popular and attended in large numbers by both the Indian and Surinami-Hindustani community.
The Surinami-Hindustani community is well integrated into Dutch society and is active in all spheres in the Netherlands, including in politics. The Deputy Mayor of The Hague Municipality, Mr. Rabin Baldewsingh, an influential and charismatic leader belonging to the Surinami-Hindustani community, has been conferred with the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award (PBSA) for the year 2014, making him the first member of the Surinami Hindustani community in the Netherlands to be awarded the prestigious PBSA. Earlier, PBSAs have been conferred on two prominent members of the Indian Diaspora, viz. Mr. Ram Lakhina and Mr. Wahid Saleh, in 2009 and 2011 respectively. The Diaspora participates actively in events such as the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, which was organized on January 9, 2016 by the Embassy in The Hague.
Visits from the Netherlands:
Visits from India:
- 1986: Queen Beatrix
- 1987: Prime Minister R.F.M. Lubbers
- 1993: Prime Minister R.F.M. Lubbers
- 1999: Prime Minister Wim Kok
- 2006: Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende
- October 2007: Queen Beatrix
- November 2007: Foreign Trade Minister Mr. Frank Heemskerk.
- February 2008: Transport & Water Mgmt Minister Mr. Camiel Eurlings
- February 2009: Foreign Trade Minister Mr. Frank Heemskerk
- October 2009: Social Affairs & Employment Minister Mr. Piet H. Donner
- February, 2011: Mayor of Rotterdam Mr. A. Aboutaleb
- April 2011: Infrastructure & Environment Minister Ms. Melanie Schultz van Haegen-Maas Geesteranus
- May 2011: Mayor of Amsterdam Mr. E. van der Laan
- July 2011: Foreign Minister Dr. Uri Rosenthal
- November 2011: Minister of Agriculture and Foreign Trade Mr. Henk Bleker.
- December 2011: Mayor of The Hague Mr. Jozias van Aartsen
- March 2012: Mayor of Amsterdam, Mr. E. van der Laan
- May 2012: Minister of Health, Welfare and Sports Ms. Edith Schippers
- September 2013: Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Ms. Lillianne Ploumen
- November 2013: Foreign Minister Mr. Frans Timmermans
- January 2014: Minister of Health, Welfare and Sports Ms. Edith Schippers
- June-July 2014: Her Majesty Queen Maxima, in her capacity as a Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General on Financial Inclusion
- November 2014: Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Ms. Lilianne Ploumen
- March 2015: Mayors of Amsterdam (Mr. Eberhard van der Laan) and Amstelveen (Ms. M.M. van ’t Veld)
- June 2015: Prime Minister Mark Rutte (accompanied by Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Ms. Lilianne Ploumen and Minister for Agriculture Ms. Sharon Dijksma)
List of Agreements
- 1957: Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru
- 1985: Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi
- 1988: President R. Venkataraman
- 1990: External Affairs Minister Shri I.K. Gujral
- 2004: Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh
- March 2008: Minister of Science, Technology & Earth Sciences Shri Kapil Sibal
- May 2008: Minister of State Food Processing Industries Shri Subodh Kant.
- June 2008: Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs Shri Vayalar Ravi
- September 2008: Minister of Law & Justice Shri H.R. Bhardwaj
- November 2008: President ICCR Dr. Karan Singh.
- November 2008: Finance Minister Shri P. Chidambaram
- September 2009: Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs Shri Vayalar Ravi.
- May 2010: Minister of State for Communication & IT Shri Sachin Pilot
- September 2011: Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs Shri Vayalar Ravi.
- April 2012: Minister of Shipping, Shri G.K.Vasan
- May 2012: Minister for Agriculture & Food Processing Industries Shri Sharad Pawar
- October 2012: Minister of Health & Family Welfare Shri Ghulam Nabi Azad
- May 2013: Minister for Urban Devpt. & Parliamentary Affairs Shri Kamal Nath
- June 2013: Minister of Communications & IT and Law & Justice Shri Kapil Sibal.
- June 2013: Minister of State for Youth Affairs & Sports Shri Jitendra Singh.
- July 2013: Minister of State for Shipping Shri Milind Deora.
- March 2014: External Affairs Minister Shri Salman Khurshid
- August-September 2014: Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Shri Akhilesh Yadav
- November 2014: Minister for Road Transport, Highways & Shipping Shri Nitin Jairam Gadkari
- February 2015: Minister for Tourism of the Government of Goa, Shri Dilip Parulekar.
- Air Services Agreement (May 1951)
- Treaty for the Mutual Surrender of Fugitive Criminals (Anglo–Dutch Treaty of 1898 effected in 1971)
- Agreement on Economic and Technical Cooperation (February 1983)
- Cultural Agreement (May 1985)
- Agreement on Scientific Cooperation (November 1985)
- MoU for cooperation in the field of telecommunications (September 1987)
- MoU on environmental cooperation (January 1988)
- Avoidance of Double Taxation Prevention of Fiscal Evasion (July 1988)
- MoU on cooperation in agriculture and animal husbandry (September 1990)
- Agreement for the promotion and protection of investments (November 1995)
- MoU for investment promotion (February 2004)
- MoU on Cultural Cooperation (October 2007)
- MoU in the field of Ports and Maritime Transport and Logistics (February 2008) - further extended in May 2011 for 3 years.
- MoU on Cooperation in Science, Technology and Innovation (March 2008).
- Social Security Agreement (October 2009).
- MoU for establishment of “Long-Term Chair for study of Contemporary India” at Leiden University between Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) and Leiden University (December 2010)
- Letter of Intent (LOI) for Cooperation in areas of Corporate Governance and CSRs (June 2011)
- Revised Protocol amending Convention between India and Netherlands on Avoidance of Double Taxation and Prevention of Fiscal Evasion (May 2012).
- MoU on Food Safety between Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) under Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India and Consumer Product Safety Authority under Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation, Kingdom of the Netherlands (November 2012).
- MoU in the field of Spatial Planning, Water Management and Mobility Management (May 2013).
- MoU on Cooperation in the field of Healthcare and Public Health (January 2014).
- MoU on technical cooperation in the field of the development of sports infrastructure (January 2014).
- MoU on cooperation in Renewal Energy (February 2014).
- MoU on Joint Trade & Investment Committee (November 2014).
- Joint Program of Cooperation on strengthening the bilateral cooperation in the area of Electric Mobility (June 2015).