February 23, 2019

Even our longest, unbroken, peaceful relationship can be improved

Ambassador Hoekstra. Photography by Jos van Leeuwen.

By H.E. Mr. Peter Hoekstra.

The United States and the Netherlands have a long history of friendship and cooperation.  This began before John Adams was accepted as the official representative from the United States to the Netherlands in 1782 and even before the Dutch became the first nation to recognize our new nation with the First Salute in November of 1776.  Our joint journey started when Henry Hudson sailed to North America and the Dutch settled in those new lands.

Our relationship with the Dutch is the longest, unbroken, peaceful relationship that the United States has with any nation in the world.  The Dutch have long been one of the United States’ most like-minded allies, both globally and within the EU.  We have a special relationship and I want to continue to move that forward by advocating the policies of our administration; expanding the lines of communication between the Netherlands and the United States; and finding common ground to work together for the benefit of both nations.  As Ambassador, my goal is to take an already strong bond and make it stronger.

The U.S.-Dutch economic relationship is one of our deepest and most important trade and investment partnerships.  The Netherlands is among Europe’s most dynamic and highly competitive economies, with strong historical trade and investment links to the United States.  The Netherlands is historically the third largest foreign investor in the United States, supporting over 740,000 American jobs, and is the United States’ eighth largest goods export market, worth 40.4 billion dollars.

Here in the Netherlands, over 2,700 U.S. companies – nearly a quarter of all foreign-owned companies in this country – directly employ a quarter of a million Dutch workers.

The coming years will continue to present changes, challenges, and opportunities.  Changes are coming in the European Union and with the Netherlands’ energy transition.  We also face security and defense challenges, including worrisome activity by Russia.

H.E. Peter Hoekstra, Ambassador of USA to the Netherlands. Photography by Gezichten van Margraten.

As Secretary of State Mike Pompeo again reiterated in his recent remarks at NATO headquarters, the United States has made it clear that NATO should not return to business as usual with Russia until Moscow shows a clear change in its actions and complies with international law.  President Trump has also made it clear that the United States, the Netherlands, and all our NATO allies need to ensure that fighting terrorism is a top priority for the Alliance.We should work with our partners in North Africa and the Middle East to address conditions and activities that enable terrorism, such as the trafficking of weapons, irregular migration, and regional instability.  NATO’s expertise can help strengthen the resilience of partner countries and regional organizations fighting terrorism.

Security is not free.  Our collective defense demands fair and equitable sharing of the security burden.  We are depending on the Netherlands and other European nations to make the case to their own taxpayers why it is critical to fulfill their obligations on defense spending.

During the Wales Summit in 2014, the Netherlands and every other NATO Ally agreed to spend 2 percent of gross domestic product on defense by 2024, with 20 percent of that share devoted to funding major equipment. It is now up to each ally to make good on that promise by presenting a credible plan.

We also face challenges to fair trade.  We want to work with the Netherlands to promote fairer trade policies worldwide, particularly in regard to countries such as China.  China often fails to respect intellectual property, forces technology transfer, provides subsidies to its companies that give unfair advantages, and dumps commodities on world markets which  directly or indirectly harm U.S. and European industry.   We want to encourage like-minded countries to stand with us in taking concrete action against unfair trade practices – whether it is dumping, subsidies, intellectual property theft, or forced technology transfer.

American and Dutch companies are natural partners, especially in innovative industries and the knowledge-based economy.  Together we can make greater strides through cooperating in the fields of science, technology, and entrepreneurship.  In April, my friend the Governor of the State of Michigan was here to sign an agreement with the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy to strengthen innovation in the automotive sector.

The United States and the Netherlands have always shared a close bond.  This is in part thanks to our shared history, starting with New Amsterdam and our connections with the Pilgrims through Leiden.  It extends to our shared history during our revolution, when the Dutch provided financial and moral support to our new nation, and then in World War II, when Americans came here as liberators.  It follows through to the Pilgrims through Leiden. when the United States provided aid to help rebuild a nation devastated by war.  Today we look to our shared cultural ties.  We are both nations that believe in rule of law, human rights, and freedom and we continue to work together on these issues.

The Netherlands will always hold a special place in my heart and it is an honor to have the opportunity to strengthen relations between the country of my birth and the country that I call home.  I believe that together with the men and women of the U.S. Mission to the Netherlands, we can use my time here to make this already robust relationship even stronger.



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