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Does Ukraine have prospect for closer economic ties with the Netherlands?
The issue becomes apparent when you consider that the Netherlands as a highly agricultural country, is one of the leading countries in this field. In terms of productivity and intensity of agriculture, it is on the first position in the world rankings. Using innovative techniques, careful care of the soil, use of fertilizers and high technologies have allowed the Netherlands to take the place of the pace of growth of agricultural production.
It is clear that our cooperation with the Netherlands is not only deepening the trade relations, but also a chance to learn from the successful experience of the agricultural sector. Moreover, I am convinced that Ukraine, with its fertile soils and industrious population, with the assistance of Dutch experts has all chances to repeat the achievements of the Netherlands.
The intensification of bilateral cooperation becomes more real when we remember that from January 1 this year a free trade zone between Ukraine and the EU has been launched. It opens the opportunities to expand markets for agriculture and build relationships with Western countries, including the Netherlands.
Today trade cooperation between our countries is developing very dynamically. Thus, the trade of agricultural products for 2015 amounted to $ 680 million. Of these, products worth $ 580 million were exported to the Netherlands, goods worth $ 100 million were imported to Ukraine.
The main exported products are traditionally cereals ($ 315.4 million), oil ($ 135 million), oilseeds ($ 45 million), and meat and offal ($ 38.8 million), and residues and waste from the food industry ($ 34 million).
Among the most imported Dutch goods were cocoa and chocolate ($ 24.7 million), natural plants and bulbs ($ 8.3 million), juices ($ 5.9 million), products from grains and cereals ($ 5.1 million), gelatin, peptone, dextrin ($ 4.3 million).
Earlier this year, there was significant growth of indicators of trade between countries.
Turnover for the first month of 2016 was $ 98 million, and this is $ 60 million more than in the same period of 2015. This sharp increase was mainly due to export supplies from Ukraine. In particular, exports in January totaled $ 81.8 million, thus exceeding last year's figures by more than $ 51 million. Imports increased by $ 8.85 million to $ 16.3 million.
Cooperation between the two countries goes beyond bilateral trade.
Recall that the June 4, 2015 under the XXVIII International Agricultural Exhibition "AGRO-2015" a program of cooperation in the sustainable development of agriculture and rural areas between the Ministry of Agrarian Policy and Food of Ukraine and the Ministry of Economic Affairs of the Netherlands was signed.
The Program of cooperation envisaged implementation of joint projects in 5 areas:
- land resources as a tool for sustainable development of agricultural areas;
- payment agency;
- ensuring water resources of farms and agricultural areas;
- family farms, potato production / dairy products;
- development of new projects and co-financing.
We are currently working on marking the pilot areas and plan details for practical implementation of these projects during this year.
To speed up the process, the consultations are carried out by experts from the Dutch side. In particular, the last visit of the Dutch delegation was held quite recently - March 1-3, 2016.
Meanwhile, a regular session of the bilateral working group on agriculture is very significant for Ukraine. In the framework of the working groups, the issues regarding cooperation in such important areas as dairy, potatoes, gardening, greenhouses and implementation of joint projects of technical assistance, are risen.
For example, the development of greenhouses is really promising area, because saturation of the market with the domestic products in the off-season period will allow Ukrainian consumers to buy qualitative and, more importantly, affordable products (instead of expensive imported goods). It is not surprising that in recent years, hothouse industry of Ukraine has been developing in a large scale. In particular, the construction of new greenhouses with vegetable production in greenhouses was carried out, as well as seedlings of vegetable crops using energy-saving technologies.
Almost all of the new greenhouses built in Ukraine are from the Dutch firms.
The same support we feel in other areas.
According to the conclusions of Dutch bank ABN AMRO, Dutch side is interested in cooperation no less than Ukraine. The experts believe that Ukrainian agricultural market has good prospects and deserves the attention of investors. This applies particularly to the production of agricultural machinery and feed.
I believe that the business circles of the Netherlands show their desire to deepen mutual cooperation and help to put our agriculture to a new level.
There are about 500 companies with Dutch capital operate in Ukraine, this is a corroboration of the above subjects. I am confident that the implementation of already initiated projects and intensification of the investment cooperation will not keep you waiting.