Dutch, Vietnam PMs Talk Trade and Investment in Hanoi

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Outgoing Dutch Prime Minister, Mark Rutte was in Hanoi last week talking up trade and investment between the Netherlands and Vietnam. Here’s what was achieved in his two-day stopover and how trade and investment are shaping up between these two nations.


The Prime Minister of the Netherlands, Mark Rutte, was in Vietnam last week for high-level meetings with the Vietnamese leadership amid a wave of investment from Dutch firms. The Dutch prime minister also took the opportunity to attend the Green Energy Forum (GEF) organized by the European Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam. The GEF is an annual event organized by the chamber aimed at opening up green investment and trade between the bloc and Vietnam. During his visit, the Dutch prime minister not only oversaw the signing of four cooperation agreements between Dutch firms and various government departments and ministries but also took a bicycle ride through Hanoi with Vietnam’s prime minister. This was more than a mere photo op showcasing the cultural similarities between the two countries, such as their shared preference for two-wheel transportation. It also highlighted the topographical similarities that have made this mode of transportation popular in both nations. Specifically, both countries feature relatively flat and low-lying terrain, making them susceptible to flooding. This underscores the significant opportunities for investment, given their shared experience in infrastructure and engineering related to water management. A relatively packed two-day trip, Rutte’s visit to Vietnam also marked 50 years of diplomatic relations. We look at how Vietnam-Netherlands trade and investment has grown since, with data presented for 2023.

Trade rules and regulations: Vietnam and the Netherlands

With the Netherlands part of the European Union, trade between the country and Vietnam is governed by trade agreements negotiated and implemented by the EU as a whole. These include:

EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA)

The EVFTA is an ambitious pact set to eliminate almost 99 percent of customs duties between the EU and Vietnam. This agreement is expected to increase Vietnam’s GDP by 4.6 percent and its exports to the EU by 42.7 percent by 2025, according to the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI). The European Commission also forecast the EU’s GDP to increase by US$29.5 billion as a result of the agreement.

EU-Vietnam Investment Protection Agreement (EVIPA)

Currently in the works is the EVIPA. This agreement would help to protect European enterprises investing in Vietnam and vice-versa. However, the agreement still needs to be ratified by several European nations, including the Netherlands.

Netherlands FDI projects in Vietnam

The Netherlands is one of the biggest European investors in Vietnam. The country has been active in the Southeast Asian nation for decades with projects ranging from consumer sanitary goods to dairy products and beer. In fact, at the end of 2022, firms from the Netherlands had invested more than US$13.7 billion across 410 projects in Vietnam. Several well-known Dutch brands with operations in Vietnam include:

Unilever

One of the world’s biggest makers of self-care products, Unilever has made a huge investment in Vietnam since it first entered the market in 1995. This culminated last year, in (US$1.07 billion). According to Unilever, 35 million of its products are used in Vietnam every day with the company employing 1,400 Vietnamese.

Heineken

World famous beer brewer, Heineken, has reportedly invested over US$1 billion in developing its business in Vietnam. It also committed earlier this year to . The company currently boasts 3,000 employees and an additional 150,000 indirect employees.

FrieslandCampina

Dutch dairy producer, FrieslandCampina, has been operating in Vietnam since 1995. The company is well known for its Dutch Lady brand, which is stocked by most major retailers around the country. The company has two dairies in Vietnam, one in Binh Duong and one in Ha Nam.

See also: Vietnamese Food Processing Firms and EU Investors: Quick Guide

Netherlands exports to Vietnam

The Netherlands’ biggest exports to Vietnam in 2022 were: other products; machines, equipment, tools, and instruments; and chemical products. Collectively these three categories of goods accounted for US$333.4 million worth of exports from the Netherlands to Vietnam.

Netherlands exports to Vietnam, 2022

Description Value US$
Other products 163,976,659
Machine, equipment, tools, and instruments 104,983,845
Chemical products 64,452,764
Pharmaceutical products 58,792,847
Milk and milk products 40,720,712
Parts and accessories of motor vehicle auxiliaries 40,088,641
Other edible food preparations 37,084,417
Plastics 28,731,607
Other means of transportation, parts and 23,555,327
Chemicals 21,520,389
Animal fodders and animal fodder materials 20,682,002
Iron and steel products 16,177,785
Ferrous waste and scrap 14,374,949
Computers, electrical products, spare parts, and components thereof 9,693,976
Plastic products 7,060,149
Iron and steel 3,990,968
Pastrycooks, sweets, and cereal products 3,595,495
Yarn 3,130,043
Textile, leather, and foot-wear materials and accessories thereof 2,239,216
Glass and glassware 1,822,929
Rubber 1,252,233
Insulated wires and cables 920,231
Total 668,847,184

Vietnam’s exports to the Netherlands

In 2022, Vietnam exported over US$10 billion worth of goods to the Netherlands. Chief among those exports were: computers, electrical products, spare parts and components thereof; machines, equipment, tools, and instruments; and footwear. Between these three categories of goods, Vietnam earned US$5.6 billion—about half of the total value of its exports to the Netherlands.

Vietnam’s exports to the Netherlands, 2022

Description Value US$
Computers, electrical products, spare parts, and components thereof 2,496,678,843
Machine, equipment, tools, and instruments 2,027,219,317
Footwear 1,064,281,210
Textiles and garments 1,032,197,613
Telephones, mobile phones, and parts thereof 808,828,400
Other products 543,314,185
Other means of transportation, parts, and components thereof 328,079,334
Cashew nuts 296,510,548
Handbags, purses, suit-cases, headgear, and accessories thereof 269,143,103
Fishery products 268,427,845
Toys and sports requisites; parts and accessories 249,651,561
Iron and steel products 180,373,309
Plastic products 164,783,099
Fruits and vegetables 116,937,501
Chemicals 88,892,422
Wood and wooden products 86,533,711
Still images, video cameras, and parts thereof 81,208,712
Coffee 68,925,674
Pastries, sweets, and cereal products 52,901,460
Pepper 47,483,884
Rubber products 31,367,207
Other base metals and other base metal products 24,996,853
Textile, leather, and foot-wear materials and auxiliaries 23,220,729
Bamboo and rattan products 23,008,171
Ceramic products 20,078,556
Rubber 14,079,270
Rice 8,685,467
Chemical products 8,591,460
Coal 4,048,947
Total 10,430,448,389

The future of trade between Vietnam and the Netherlands

In 2022, two-way trade between Vietnam and the Netherlands reached US$11.1 billion. It was not, however, evenly distributed, with Vietnam recording a trade surplus of US$9.8 billion. That said, it is in line with several Dutch multinationals setting up in Vietnam as their export base. Looking ahead, following Prime Minister Rutte’s visit to Hanoi, it is anticipated that trade and investment between these two nations will continue to strengthen. In light of this, Dutch companies seeking assistance in entering the Vietnamese market are encouraged to reach out to the business advisory professionals at .

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