Members of Parliament embrace ‘15 consortia for 15 focus Countries’ but minister stops short

MP’s of the ruling coalition in the Netherlands today called on Minister Sigrid Kaag for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation to carry out the ‘15 Consortia for 15 focus countries’ plan of action from the Dutch private sector of VNO, during a parliamentary debate about Dutch trade relations with Africa.

19th of November 2020

MP’s of the ruling coalition in the Netherlands today called on Minister Sigrid Kaag for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation to carry out the ‘15 Consortia for 15 focus countries’ plan of action from the Dutch private sector of VNO, during a parliamentary debate about Dutch trade relations with Africa. 

The debate of November 19th, held by the parliamentary committee for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, took place on request of the MP’s who inquired about the status of the Task Force Africa, which was established in 2019. 

Mr. Mustafa Amhaouch of the CDA (Christian-Democrats) stressed that there is a sense of urgency to deliver concrete results with the Task Force, that was created after he and a majority of the parliamentarians called for that in 2019. Mr. Achraf Bouali of D66, the same political party as the minister, explained that ‘it is time for Europe to act. We are still Africa’s main trade partner, but we have to keep our trade relations strong,’ referring to the inroads made by China on the continent. 

Minister Kaag promised to make this meeting about trade relations with Africa a topic that will return annually, a decision welcomed by the NABC. It must be noted though that with parliamentary elections and the formation of a new government coming up in March, a different minister may be in charge next year.

Minister’s response to 15 consortia 

The parliamentarians Amhaouch and Weverling, who represents the party with the majority of the seats in parliament, the VVD (liberals) both referred to the NABC and the plan of action ‘15 consortia for 15 African focus countries’ that has been brought forward by NABC and endorsed by employers federation VNO-NCW as a very concrete next step. Under this plan of action, NABC intends to build consortia of companies in each of the 15 focus countries as laid out in the Africa Strategy for Dutch businesses.

Asked by Mr. Weverling whether the minister would financially support the plan for building and operating the 15 consortia, minster Kaag replied that ‘the 15 consortia can be carried out using the existing instruments which are available,’ suggesting there is a willingness on her side to execute the plan but not to make ad hoc funds available now. Instead, she suggested funding should come from programs like the Impact Clusters, one of the RVO instruments, and similar programmes. 

NABC Members are all invited to an online session about the plan: ‘15 Consortia for 15 African focus countries’ that takes place on December 16th, at 09:00, on the second day of the Digital Africa Business Days.