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Dutch Prime Minister Comes Calling, Boosts Farm, Technology Ties

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi greeted his Dutch counterpart Mark Rutte by enhancing bilateral relations in the fields of energy, agriculture, water and technology during the latter’s second visit to India, as the Netherlands joined the International Solar Alliance (ISA).

Both PMs began the day with welcoming messages on Twitter, Modi tweeting in Dutch and Rutte in Hindi. After delegation-level talks, Modi said, “I had called upon the Netherlands to join the International Solar Alliance and I am happy to tell you that the country has become a member of it today.” In his comments, Rutte said there was a huge scope for the two countries to deepen cooperation in areas of trade and investment, clean energy, agriculture and smart cities.

Both leaders addressed business leaders, with Rutte holding a separate meeting with the Tata group, which has run into trouble in the Netherlands as a result of US tariffs on steel and local union problems. Addressing a select group later, Rutte said, “I pledge here today that I will make a personal investment in the EU-India relationship. I believe we can pave the way for the rest of Europe.”

Promising that the Netherlands would be more attractive post Brexit, he said, “Free trade is in our DNA. Thanks to our strategic position, we are also a key gateway to Europe for Indian products. Even now, 20% of India’s exports to Europe pass through Schiphol Airport and the ports of Amsterdam and Rotterdam. And our position as India’s European hub will only be bolstered by Brexit.”

The two countries also agreed on cooperation in areas of agriculture and food processing. Rutte said, “India is still largely absent from the strategic agenda of the EU and its member states. That’s a mistake. By 2025 or 2030, your population will be bigger than any other in the world. And India is currently the world’s fastest-growing major economy. India has truly begun to realise its economic potential. In the long term, these mutual blind spots pose a risk for Europe, the Netherlands, and India alike. If we work together we can achieve so much more in areas like security, the economy and sustainability.”


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