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"Tjiske Regina Bolt: "Government is committed to preserving and creating trade."

Export seminar Fruit Attraction well attended

On Friday 18 October as part of Fruit Attraction, a seminar organised by the Dutch Embassy and Agriculture Council in Spain, there was a discussion regarding phytosanitary policy and international trade. Tjitske Regina Bolt, Senior Policy International worker, spoke about this. Firstly she gave an introduction regarding the agricultural sector in The Netherlands, and she then presented a talk on the challenges to the Dutch economy and their cooperation in the field of phytosanitary market access. During the seminar there were also papers presented by Spain, Mexico, Turkey and Brazil.

What does the government do to promote exports?
Tjitske explained: "My goal during this seminar was to present the government's vision. What does the government do to promote exports? Viewed specifically from the phytosanitary aspect, we guarantee that there are no sicknesses or diseases transported during business trade. My Spanish colleague also highlighted this and he concluded that Dutch responsibilities were much clearer for businesses to be able to create the conditions in which trade can take place. Companies know what products must meet regulation. Our companies are much more active themselves. Additionally our government has good cooperation with different areas. Other countries gave presentations about how well they are doing and less on the role of the government. They had the question "how can we put a product in another market?"

The Dutch horticultural sector
The Netherlands play an important role on an international level. The average temperature of our country is 8.6 degrees and we have 1.580 hours of sunshine per year. 39% of our agricultural products are horticultural. In 2012 this had a value of 7.9 billion Euro. Horticultural exports had a value of 16.5 billion and the horticultural import a value of 8.2 billion. The contribution to the surplus of Dutch trade is 20%.

The Netherlands is number 2 in the world in the field of agricultural exports. In 2012 this had a value of 75 billion Euro. Export is very important for The Netherlands. Flowers and pot plants have an export share of 65%. 70% of seed potatoes are exported to over 80 countries. The starting materials generated from exports is 65 to 70%. 70% of fruit and vegetables are exported. Next to the importance of import a lot is re-exported.

Challenges to the Dutch economy:
Economic crisis
- Low producer and consumer confidence
- Savings and scarce government funds
- Less financing for SME business practices
Internationalisation and globalisation
- Strong international competition, in particular by new players (BRIC)

Social challenges:
- 9 billion people by 2050
- Climate change
- Scarcity of raw materials
- Ageing and demography

BRIC countries
Tjitske indicates that there are both opportunities and threats relating to BRIC countries. "They are bigger and can produce more. On the one hand this could mean we can export more because of their growth, but if they produce more they will eventually not need our import. Of course there could be other opportunities, for example, if we are not exporting fruit, they may require green houses and suppliers could be discussed."


The government guarantees, through the issue of phytosanitary certification, that exporters meet the phytosanitary requirements. As the number of phytosanitary measures increase so has the number of trade barriers. Phytosanitary measures can sometimes change with certain trade agreements. Tjitske: "Sometimes situations do not go well with trade because things do not match with the laws and regulations in other countries. There we play an active role. We will try to help Dutch products meet the full requirements. A test risk analysis can take a long time. Of course much hangs on the will and trust of the parties involved. Sometimes a country will not cooperate and it becomes very difficult for us. We then look, for example, very deep into certain technical regulations and we ask why this country does things in another way 'to the declared order.' Often you are not the only country encountering these difficult trade barriers."

The phytosanitary team's goal:
Fewer barriers on phytosanitary requirements and establishing links in other policy areas such as food safety. Besides promoting capacity building and cooperation in phytosanitary areas. The promotion of electronic certification is also a goal.

Main strategy:

- General policy of the government, international studies on trade development, insight from businesses.
- Market growth
- Maintaining markets has a higher priority than the opening of new markets

According to Tjitske maintaining markets has priority. "Finding a new customer costs a lot of time. You benefit more from good current markets. If there is a problem and the market closes that causes more pain than from a new one."

Countries with priority:
- Mexico
- Canada
- Brazil
- China
- Japan
- South Korea
- Indonesia
- India
- GCC (Gulf)
- Egypt
- Algeria
- Kenya
- Turkey
- Russia
- Ukraine

In the Netherlands there are regular meetings to discuss, with various branch organisations, trends and developments in the markets. This is done with the association of FrugiVenta, Anthos, Plantum, VGB and NAO. Tjitske indicates that the associations prioritise the countries. "It also depends on the product. The associations listen to the problems the markets have and which are the important markets. If trade with a certain country is important it is necessary that this market stays open. Then we go in."

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