Following in the footsteps of the King

Rabobank’s contribution to trade missions

When the Dutch King or Prime Minister visit a country, doors open that would otherwise remained closed. Trade missions during state visits are consequently an excellent way to break open markets and promote international trade. Rabobank has been successfully working with the Dutch government with respect to both large and small trade missions for many years. ‘We focus both on the trade opportunities for our clients and social challenges such as food security and sustainability.’

‘Economic missions are a great way to open doors abroad,’ says Gabrielle Nuijtens-Vaarkamp, Policy Advisor at the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs. ‘This is especially true if the mission is led by a Dutch Cabinet Minister or Secretary of State and certainly the case if it takes place in conjunction with a state visit by the King of the Netherlands. That’s when the Dutch business community can make a grand entry.’

Valued participant

‘We always tap into these visits as the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs to open markets and remove barriers to international trade. The combination of the government and the business community during these visits is very strong. The matchmaking between companies from both countries also usually results in new trade relationships.’

‘When planning these missions, we also look for strong partners from the business community, including banks,’ says Nuijtens-Vaarkamp. ‘Rabobank is an especially valued participant. The bank enjoys international acclaim, particularly in the field of food and agri. I very much appreciate their willingness to share their own knowledge and network. And when you hear, for example, Rabobank’s Berry Marttin speak compellingly about innovation in food and agri, you realise just how much knowledge and expertise the bank possesses in this field.’

Argentine state visit to the Netherlands

Rabobank also naturally had a place at the table during the Argentine President and First Lady’s visit to the Netherlands in March. Rabobank Executive Board Member Berry Marttin gave a speech to a gathering of 400 Dutch and Argentine companies. All those attending were given a special report on the Argentinean economy drawn up by Rabobank. It also presented the outlook for food & agri in Argentina and how it can facilitate export companies through financial services during the break-out sessions.

Concrete solutions for clients

The driving force behind these efforts is Suzanne van Tilburg, Global Head Corporate Relations at Rabobank. ‘We are as a bank pleased to play a role in trade missions in which we can provide high added value and achieve a great deal for our clients. We can, for example, share our vast knowledge of countries, markets and food chains. We tap into our global network by matchmaking companies with each other: from startups and smallholder farmers to investors and multinationals. And we can offer concrete and innovative financial solutions for international companies.’

‘In order to be able to take part in a specific mission, we draw up a proposal for the Dutch government. It sets out both our potential contribution and analyses of the country in question. While we naturally focus on trade opportunities for Dutch and local companies, we also devote attention to social challenges, such as water scarcity, food security, sustainability and anti-corruption based on our Banking for Food and Banking for the Netherlands strategies.’

Travelling with the King and the Prime Minister

Suzanne van Tilburg sees the state visit of the Dutch King and Queen to Australia and New Zealand in 2016 as an outstanding example of a mission in which Rabobank played an exceptionally meaningful role. ‘Rabobank has a very strong position and a large network in the agricultural market in Australia. So we were able to successfully match Australian and Dutch companies. This even resulted in new contracts and clients. We were furthermore able to make a major substantive contribution in the field of solutions to food security challenges and the perspectives for the future.’

Missions come in all shapes and sizes and the same is true of the objectives Rabobank wishes to achieve through its participation. Suzanne van Tilburg: ‘For example, last year we presented our vision on making the palm oil chain sustainable in conjunction with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s participation in a round table in Indonesia. We also take part in a wide range of small-scale, specific missions. For example, Rabobank Foundation was involved in a mission to Vietnam with the aim of making agreements with the World Bank and the Vietnamese Minister of Agriculture concerning supporting smallholder farmers.’

Advice for companies

Rabobank draws its clients’ attention to missions that could be appealing to them through its local Rabobanks and International Desks. Suzanne van Tilburg has a piece of advice in this regard for all companies who experience barriers in their international trade or have the notion that a certain country remains closed to them. ‘Work together, form a consortium with other companies and formulate a joint business case that addresses the market needs in that country. Don’t be discouraged by the obstacles of today, but aim for the opportunities of tomorrow. And if you need help doing this, give Rabobank a call.’