The very first informal meeting of EU trade ministers and ministers for development cooperation took place during the Netherlands Presidency in the beginning of this month. At a joint lunch at the National Maritime Museum in Amsterdam the ministers discussed ways for member states and the Commission to better align their policies on trade and development or 'aid and trade'.
The group meeting, the first of its kind, is a Presidency initiative and was hosted by the Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Lilianne Ploumen. The Netherlands is one of the few countries with a minister who is responsible for both foreign trade and development cooperation.
Ms Ploumen is keen to show her colleagues the potential added value of combining aid and trade. 'A good example is the textile industry,' she said. 'Too much of the clothing we wear is still made by people working in unhealthy, unsafe conditions who are paid too little. With a common market of 500 million consumers and 25 million companies, the EU has tremendous clout. If EU countries join forces for sustainability and corporate social responsibility, we can really improve the situation in production countries.'
During the morning session,the development ministers discussed the issue of migration, in particular support for refugees in Syria and neighbouring countries. The Global Strategy for Foreign and Security Policy, an EU programme, and the Global Goals, launched by the United Nations in 2015, were also discussed.
The trade ministers' meeting began after the joint lunch. They discussed topics such as the EU-US trade agreement, TTIP. The EU and the US want to reach an agreement in principle this year.Furthermore t the Environmental Goods Agreement was discussed A number of countries in the World Trade Organization (WTO) want to abolish the import tariffs on various 'green' goods, which could provide means for the private sector to tackle environmental and climate issues in cheaper and more effective way. Green goods are goods that generate sustainable energy (such as windmills) and combat air pollution or purify water.
NABC vigorously supports and works towards a successful ´aid and trade´ strategy of the Netherlands government by facilitating trade between Dutch and African companies through trade missions and business events. We strive to provide platforms and information about Africa’s opportunities. Our mission is two-fold, generating business for Africa and making sure the Dutch private sector does not miss out on Africa’s growing business opportunities.