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India-Netherlands: Bilateral Relations

Indo-Dutch relations date back to more than 400 years when the Dutch East India Company began trading in India. Diplomatic relations between India and Netherlands were established in 1947. Since then, the two countries have established strong relations, based on foundation of shared democratic ideals, pluralism, and rule of law.

High Level Interactions

Prime Minister Mark Rutte accompanied by Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Ms. Lilianne Ploumen; Minister for Agriculture Ms. Sharon Dijksma; as well as representatives from 100 Dutch companies visited India in June 2015. The Dutch side identified India as a ‘priority country’ for economic engagement. For the Netherlands, which is a strongly trade-oriented country, and a major investor abroad, the importance of rapidly growing India is self-evident. India, at the same time also sees the Netherlands as an important source of FDI and expertise as well as technology in our priority sectors and flagship programmes.

The highlight of 2017 was the visit of PM Modi to the Netherlands in June 2017, which provided a significant boost to bilateral cooperation. The visit highlighted natural synergies between the two countries which provide many opportunities for mutually beneficial cooperation. The two sides signed three MoUs in the fields of social security, water cooperation and cultural cooperation. During the visit, PM called upon the King and Queen of the Netherlands and held bilateral discussions with Prime Minister Mark Rutte and other members of his Cabinet. He participated in a round table moderated by the Chairman of VNO NCW, with CEOs of 16 key Dutch companies. He also addressed a large gathering of around 3000 members of the Indian community.

The momentum of bilateral ties was carried forward by the visit of Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte to India on May 24, 2018. He led a large Dutch trade mission to India comprising over 130 companies/institutions and nearly 200 trade representatives. He was also accompanied by a high-level Ministerial delegation including Ms. Cora van Nieuwenhuizen, Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management; Ms. Carola Schouten, Deputy Prime Minister & Minister of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality; Ms. Sigrid Kaag, Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation; Mr. Bruno Bruins, Minister for Medical Care and Ms. Pauline Krikke, Mayor of The Hague. The visit covered entire gamut of bilateral relations, with special focus on Water and Waste Management, Spatial Planning, Agriculture and Food Processing, People-to-People contacts and Connectivity.

The momentum of high-level visits was sustained by the State Visit of King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands to India from October 13-18, 2019. They led a high-powered ministerial delegation including Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Ms. Sigrid Kaag; Minister for Medical Care, Ms. Bruno Bruins; and State Secretary for Economic Affairs & Climate Policy, Ms. Mona Kiejzer, and a trade delegation of over 250 persons representing more than 140 companies and organizations from various sectors including technology and innovation, agriculture, water, health-care and climate. This was the largest ever Dutch trade delegation to India surpassing the trade mission led by Prime Minister Mark Rutte in May 2018. During the visit, Their Majesties met President Ram Nath Kovind, and Prime Minister Modi. External Affairs Minister called on the King and the Queen. The Majesties also attended the Inaugural Session of 25th Technology Summit in New Delhi. The Netherlands was the partner country for the Summit. The King and the Queen also visited Mumbai and the State of Kerala.

Dr. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, External Affairs Minister (EAM) visited the Netherlands during November 9 -11, 2019. EAM met Mr. Stef Blok, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Various multilateral and bilateral issues of mutual interest were discussed during the meeting. EAM also interacted with Members of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Dutch House of Representatives during the visit.

Institutional Mechanisms

There is a mechanism of Foreign Office Consultations (FOC) for discussions between India and Netherlands at the level of Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs. Since 2014, when FOC resumed after a gap of three years, they were held regularly, except in 2017.

The last FOC was held on April 2019 in New Delhi. The Indian delegation was led by A, Gitesh Sharma, Secretary (West). The Dutch delegation was led by Ms. Yoka Brandt, Secretary General, and Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The consultations reviewed the entire gamut of bilateral relations.

Trade and Commercial Relations

Trade and commercial relations constitute the bedrock of bilateral ties between the two countries. The Netherlands was the third largest investor in India, after Mauritius and Singapore for Financial Year (FY) 2018-19 with FDI inflows of USD 3.87 billion across variety of sectors. From April 2000 to March 2019, the Netherlands was the fifth largest investor into India with overall inflows of USD 28.7 billion. The Netherlands was the second largest destination of foreign investment by Indian companies with ODI Stock of Rs 804.5 billion (approximately USD 12 billion) as on end-March 2018.

The Netherlands was India’s 5th largest trading partner in Europe, after Germany, Switzerland, Belgium and United Kingdom in FY 2018-2019. During FY 2018-2019, total two-way trade stood at US$12.87 billion with export from India amounting to US$ 8.81 billion and imports from the Netherlands at US$ 4.06 billion.

Cultural Cooperation

An ICCR Cultural Centre "The Gandhi Centre" was established in The Hague on 2 October 2011. The Centre has an active calendar of programmes including Yoga and Hindi language classes, in addition to various programmes related to Indian culture such as music, dance, workshops, movies, etc. A Memorandum of Understanding on Cultural Cooperation was signed during the visit of PM Modi to the Netherlands in June 2017.

The fifth International Day of Yoga was celebrated on June 16, 2019 at prestigious Dam Square in Amsterdam. This is the first time the Dam Square hosted a public event related to India. The Square is the historical centre of Amsterdam with the neoclassical Royal Palace, the 15th-century Gothic Nieuwe Kerk (New Church), the Madame Tussauds Amsterdam and the National Monument erected in 1956 for the victims of World War II. Representatives of the Royal Dutch army also joined the celebrations for the first time. Dutch Ministry of Defense has introduced yoga exercises for armed forces to enrich their training program and reduce stress.
An international Conference on Ayurveda was organized in Leiden from 1-3 September 2018 bringing together practitioners of Ayurveda and mainstream medicine.

In 2019, number of activities for celebrating 150th Birth Anniversary year of Mahatma Gandhi are being held which among other included: a march involving school children and adults from the Gandhi statue at Hobbemaplein to the Peace Palace; an outreach programme across the schools in the Netherlands to spread the ideas and philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi; seminars with eminent personalities in Netherlands speaking on Mahatma Gandhi; Planting of 150 trees; Showcasing films on Gandhi at the Gandhi Centre ; organizing a quiz on Gandhi at the Gandhi Centre; organizing a Khadi exhibition; an event on ‘Khadi as an idea and not merely a Garment’ and a cycling event in The Hague.

Since 2016, ‘India House’, the 103-year-old residence of the Ambassador of India to the Netherlands has been opened to the public on September 19, on the occasion of the Annual Heritage/Open Monuments Day when owners of mansions or buildings with historical heritage throughout the Netherlands open their doors to the public. The event is utilised as an occasion to showcase Indian culture. Guests are also given the opportunity to witness and participate in Yoga sessions, Bollywood dance, application of henna, Baithak Gana as well as sample Indian delicacies.

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Annex

Visits from the Netherlands:

  • 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)
  • May 2017 : Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Bert Koenders
  • May 2018: Prime Minister Mark Rutte (accompanied by Deputy Prime Minister & Minister of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality Ms. Carola Schouten, Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management Ms. Cora van Nieuwenhuizen, Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Ms. Sigrid Kaag, Minister for Medical Care Mr. Bruno Bruins
  • May 2018: Her Majesty Queen Maxima, in her capacity as a Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General on Financial Inclusion
  • January 2019: Mr.Menno Snel, State Secretary for Finance
  • April 2019: Ms. Yoka Brandt, Secretary General, Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • July 2019: Maarten Camps, Secretary Generalof theMinistry of Economic Affairs
  • October 2019: Visit by the King and the Queen of the Netherlands to India

Visits from India

  • 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
  • June 2017: Prime Minister Modi
  • June 2017: Chief Minister of West Bengal, Ms. Mamata Banerjee
  • August 2017: Minister of Food Processing Minister Ms. Harsimrat Kaur Badal
  • September 2018: Minister for AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy), Mr. Shripad Yesso Naik
  • September 2018: Minister of Food Processing Industries Ms. Harsimrat Kaur Badal
  • May 2019: Chief Minister of Kerala
  • June 2019: Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh
  • September 2019: Speaker of Legislative Assembly of Uttar Pradesh
  • November 2019: Visit by External Affairs Minister to the Netherlands