Bilateral Profiles and National Agencies > Netherlands

General information on Dutch development cooperation

Development cooperation is one of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ principal tasks. The Directorate-General for International Cooperation (DGIS) is responsible for development cooperation policy, its coordination, implementation, and funding. In 2012 the Netherlands contributed 0.7% of its GNP to poverty reduction, making it one of the few countries that meet the internationally agreed norm for development aid. However, this contribution faces considerable budget constraints, which are likely to translate into a 25% reduction of (public) development expenditure over the next years, causing the budget to go down from approximately €4 billion per year to approximately €3 billion per year. These funds will be complemented by innovative financing instruments, pushing ODA expenditure up again, to somewhere between €3 and 4 billion per year eventually. The Focus letter on Development Cooperation of 2010 laid down the priorities: water management, food security, security and rule of law and sexual and reproductive health rights. As core cross cutting themes gender, climate and environment and good governance were pointed out. In 2012 the Netherlands chose a new government, which adhered to the same priorities in its coalition accord Laying Bridges. The Netherlands’ government acknowledges that ODA’s share in investments in developing countries is decreasing. This is taken not so much as a trend to be combated, but as a tendency that should be put in service of development. The Netherlands Government therefore seeks to catalyze private investments in developing countries and aims for creating innovative partnerships.

Aid for Trade (AfT) Strategy

The Dutch Government’s approach to AfT is based on the assumption that trade expansion and liberalisation lead to economic growth, which should ultimately reduce poverty. The Government’s strategy for AfT was evaluated in 2005, and the conclusions from this evaluation fed into the 2007 Netherlands development cooperation policy documents, “Our Common Concern”, and an AfT strategy document which was developed in 2008. The Netherlands’ AfT strategy is based on the following principles:

  • AfT must contribute to achieving Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 1, 7 and 8, not only by encouraging sustainable economic growth but also by promoting the redistribution of income in favour of the poor.
  • AfT should contribute to sustainable growth in developing countries. This can be achieved by safeguarding and intensifying the process of globalisation responsibly and in a controlled manner while allowing sufficient policy space to governments of beneficiary countries.
  • Dutch AfT needs to work more effectively with European donors and reach agreement on an ambitious new concrete EU AfT agenda.
  • The AfT strategy should increasingly be implemented as a joint EU AfT strategy.
  • Developing countries should incorporate growth and trade in their national poverty reduction strategies, side by side with social sector interventions. The aim is to ensure AfT remains demand-driven in character and that its formulation and implementation at country level involves both civil society and the private sector. Mainstreaming growth and trade into national poverty reduction strategies will contribute to the stronger legitimacy of recipients’ national AfT agenda by mobilising support through political processes, for instance via the recipient country’s parliament.

The Dutch AfT financial package is based on the broad definition of AfT that was agreed in the WTO Ministerial Conference at Hong Kong in 2005. As requested by developing country members, the AfT agenda was extended from the traditional trade-related assistance (TRA) to include economic infrastructure and the building of productive capacity to alleviate supply side constraints. Part of this broad agenda is the EU’s pledge to raise its annual TRA funding to €2 billion a year by 2010 (€1 billion each from the EC and from the Member States). In terms of funding, the Netherlands is among the countries leading the way in Europe, giving at least €550 million a year in the form of AfT. In its delivery mode, the Netherlands favors a demand-driven approach via embassies and international organizations in the recipient countries, which safeguards country ownership and respects country policy space. As far as possible, the Netherlands always works jointly with other donors and financial institutions, within the framework of countries’ national growth and poverty reduction strategies. In geographical focus, Least Developed Countries (LDCs), other low income countries and post-conflict countries are seen as being priority partners, while due regard should also be given to regional aspects.

In its thematic focus, the current AfT strategy brings a number of new themes into the Dutch AfT initiatives, namely:

  • Corporate social responsibility (CSR), which is important for both the workforce and the environment in developing countries as well as for maintaining support for the globalisation process: AfT activities within the field of CRS should help to combat protectionism in developed countries by promoting positive incentives for developing countries in their efforts to perform better in such areas as labour standards, child labour, protection of the climate and environment, and human rights (including MDGs 3 and 5).
  • Public-private partnerships are becoming increasingly important in Netherlands’ Aid-for-Trade programmes.
  • The Netherlands has adopted the broader definition of AfT, which includes, besides trade-related assistance (narrow definition), economic infrastructure and strategies for tackling supply-side constraints (broader definition).

Principal official agency responsible for TCB assistance to developing countries


The Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs DG for International Cooperation (DGIS)

Visitors’ address: Bezuidenhoutseweg 67

The Hague

Postal address: PO Box 20061

NL-2500 EB The Hague

Tel: +31 70 3486486

Fax: +31 70 3484848



Directorate-General for International Cooperation (DGIS): DGIS is responsible for development cooperation policy, its coordination, implementation, and funding. An important DGIS focus is on the coherence between Dutch and EU policies on developing countries. In order to develop and carry out development policy, the Netherlands works with the governments of other countries and with international organizations, such as the UN, the World Bank, and the EU. Civil society is another important source of partners; these include non-governmental organizations, such as Novib, and interest groups such as the employers’ confederation, VNO/NCW, and the small and medium enterprise lobby group, MKB-Nederland. DGIS themes include agriculture, gender, Aids, education, fragile states, sustainable economic development, and the environment.

For more information: E-mail: and

Other government and official agencies with responsibilities directly relevant to TCB


Centre for the Promotion of Imports for Developing Countries (CBI)

Visitors’ address:

Prinses Beatrixlaan 2

Postbus93144 NL-2509 AC

The Hague

Tel: +31 (0)88 602 4300

Fax: +31 (0)88 602 4301

E-mail: Website:

Centre for the Promotion of Imports from Developing Countries (CBI): CBI is an agency of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and part of the development cooperation effort of the Netherlands. Operating since 1971, CBI’s main objective is to contribute to the economic independence and equitable development of a selected number of countries in Africa, Asia, Central and South America, the Mediterranean and the Pacific by providing export marketing and management support to their SME exporters and business support organizations with the purpose of increasing their exports of goods and services to Europe. CBI stimulates and supports economic activities that are sustainable, socially responsible and environmentally sound. This implies compliance with international social standards, more specifically ILO Conventions and European consumer health, safety and environmental requirements. Requirements are both legislative and market-driven. In order to accomplish its mission, CBI concentrates on five core competencies: (i) market knowledge − CBI has an intimate knowledge of the structures, characteristics, developments and requirements of markets in the European Union; (ii) product and production improvement − CBI is able to provide technical assistance in improving products and production processes that contribute to competitiveness on the EU markets; (iii) quality control − CBI coaches exporters and business support organizations in meeting the quality requirements of the European market; (iv) export marketing and management − CBI is able to provide technical assistance and training on improving export marketing and management knowledge and skills within companies and business support organizations; and (v) market entry − CBI is able to provide guidance and market entry services to companies in gaining access to, and maintaining and expanding market share in, the EU markets.

For more information: E-mail: and



Visitors’ address: Anna van Saksenlaan 71

NL-2593 HW The Hague

Tel: +31 (0)70 31 4 9696



FMO: FMO (the Netherlands Development Finance Company) was founded in 1970 by the Dutch Government as a public-private development bank. It stimulates the Dutch private sector to invest in emerging markets by furnishing capital and experience. Since its inception, FMO’s aim has been to empower entrepreneurship in emerging economies in order to further development. Its mission is to provide capital, share knowledge and create partnerships. It collaborates with banks and other institutions with specific expertise. Its area of operation is international, contributing to the development of the private sector in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America. It manages a number of specific funds and facilities for the Dutch Government, currently including: (i) Access to Energy Fund (AEF); (ii) Micro & Small Enterprise Fund (MASSIF); (iii) Capacity Development Programme (CD); (iv) Infrastructure Development Fund (IDF); and (v) Facility Emerging Markets (FOM).

For more information: E-mail: and

NL Agency Visitors’ address:

Prinses Beatrixlaan 2 NL-2595 AL

The Hague

Tel.: (088) 602 50 00

Fax: (088) 602 90 23

Website: and

NL Agency (an umbrella organisation that hosts the former EVD): NL Agency supports international cooperation and development efforts, both private and public. NL EVD International supports various programmes in the field of sustainable economic growth in developing countries and emerging markets. These programmes focus on innovative pilot projects, joint-investments and transfer of technology, knowledge and skills in social and economic sectors. This is achieved through business cooperation and through cooperation between business and training- and knowledge institutes. Local and international private companies are encouraged to invest and to play a role in economic growth and poverty reduction. Public cooperation takes shape in various NL EVD International programmes.Their objectives are manifold: i) assisting the public sector in various countries; ii) encouraging public cooperation between the Netherlands public sector and public institutions abroad; and iii) stimulating public-private cooperation both in the Netherlands and abroad. The projects developed under these programmes can be purely public sector-oriented or aimed at strengthening public-private partnerships.The scope of the projects developed under these programmes is therefore very diverse. Focusing, for example, on the following: i) the EU enlargement process; ii) cooperation in the area of educational reform in Central and Eastern European countries; and iii) human resource development cooperation with China. Programmes focused on international public co-operation includethe following: Indonesia facility and Vietnam Facility. The Agency also provides Dutch companies with information and services critical for the pursuit of new opportunities in all markets. Through its international network, website and database, the Agency – acting closely with the Dutch Diplomatic Missions and Netherlands Business Support Offices − is able to provide useful business leads and contacts.

Website: and

Other official or government trade-related organizations

Social and Economic Council of the Netherlands (SER): Established in law by the 1950 Industrial Organization Act (Wet op de bedrijfsorganizatie), the SER is the main advisory body to the Dutch Government and parliament on national and international social and economic policy. It is financed by industry and is wholly independent from the Government. It represents the interests of trade unions and industry, advising the Government (upon request or at its own initiative) on all major social and economic issues. As an advisory and consultative body of employers’ representatives, union representatives and independent experts, the SER aims to help create social consensus on national and international socio-economic issues. For more information:

Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Minbuza): Minbuza is the channel through which the Dutch Government communicates with foreign governments and international organizations, and is also responsible for the Netherlands’ bilateral aid. The Ministry has four key sets of departments: (i) regional departments, which develop and carry out coherent, effective policy on the world’s regions and countries; they include the North Africa and Middle East Department (DAM), the sub-Saharan Africa Department (DAF), and the Western and Central Europe Department (DWM); (ii) policy theme departments, which combine knowledge and expertise in one foreign policy area or more; they include the Security Policy Department (DVB), the Fragile States Unit (FSE), the Department for Sustainable Economic Development (DDE), the Human Rights Department (DMH), and the Environment and Energy Department (DME); (iii) multilateral departments, which deliver the Dutch contribution to multilateral forums; these departments, the European Integration Department (DIE) and the United Nations and International Financial Institutions Department (DVF), also send Dutch delegates to international organizations; and (iv) support departments, which serve the entire Ministry in areas like finance, personnel, information systems, organization and communications; they include the Legal Affairs Department (DJZ), the Information and Communication Department (DVL), and the Office of the Secretary-General (BSG).

For more information: E-mail: and

Tax and Customs Administration (Central Licensing Office for Imports and Exports): The Dutch Customs, which falls under the Ministry of Finance, is responsible for levying import duties and is charged with carrying out a general check on goods that enter or leave the customs territory, with particular attention to a number of prohibitions, restrictions and control procedures, as well as the safety of the movement of goods. The Section for EC/Section EC/WTO-Notifications is a national enquiry point for TBT.

For more information: E-mail: and

Non-governmental organizations involved in TCB

Agri-Profocus Partnership (Agri-Profocus): Agri-ProFocus is a partnership of Dutch donor agencies, credit institutions, companies and training and knowledge institutions with the goal of promoting farmer entrepreneurship in developing countries through cooperation, exchange and learning. Its mission is to provide coherent and demand-driven support to enhance the capacity of producer organizations in developing farmer entrepreneurship within the context of poverty reduction. Its 26 members collaborate closely with the Directorate General for Development Cooperation (DGIS) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and with the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality (LNV) .Its geographical focus is on seven African countries; its thematic focus is on value chain development, access to financial services, sustainable food production, and gender as a cross-cutting theme; and its interventions range from research, documenting practice and development of tools and methods to promoting exchange and learning within the Agri-ProFocus network.

For more information: E-mail: and

Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO): Established in 1973 as a non-profit Dutch research and advisory bureau, SOMO investigates the consequences of multinational enterprises’ (MNEs) policies and the internationalization of business worldwide. Through its activities and research on corporations and their international context, and with a focus on sustainable economic and social development and the structural eradication of poverty, exploitation, and inequality, SOMO contributes directly or indirectly to sustainable development and to the fight against the negative consequences of globalisation for countries from the global North as well as those from the global South. Its goals are: (i) achieving change through knowledge building; (ii) strengthening civil society in the global North and South; and (iii) increasing the impact of civil society organizations.

For more information:

Dutch Employers’ Cooperation Programme (DECP): DECP is a public-private partnership established by Dutch employers and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2005 with the aim of strengthening the capacity of business organizations in developing countries by transferring knowledge and experience, by cooperating with national and international organizations, and through financial contributions to programme activities. Through DECP, Dutch employer organizations offer professional expertise to employer organizations in 36 of the Netherlands’ partner countries. DECP intervenes in three areas: (i) fostering sustainable socio-economic development; (ii) formulating and influencing policy (national and international); and (iii) defending the interests of its members. It works closely with national and international organizations, including PUM Netherlands Senior Experts, De Baak Management Centre, the Confederation of the Netherlands Industries and Employers (VNO-NCW), ILO (International Labour Organization), ITC/ILO (International Training Centre of ILO) and IOE (International Organization of Employers).DECP is financed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and VNO-NCW.

Dutch Institute for Communication and Development (IICD): IICD was set up in 1996 and has more than a decade of experience in helping developing countries to move forward with sustainable development through the efficient use of ICT applications. It works in nine partner countries to improve ICT applications in education, health care, environment, better governance and income-generation and is involved in around 130 activities. Its support for projects and programmes takes various forms, including providing seed capital for test projects, seeking technical solutions for web access together with private sector partners, and training project partners and users in the efficient use of communication technologies, such as the Internet, television, local radio and telephony. IICD’s most important partners are local organizations in developing countries. It has institutional alliances with the Dutch Directorate-General for International Cooperation (co-financing (MFS) grant of €20 million for 2006 – 2010), the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). In the Netherlands, IICD works with Hivos, Cordaid, PSO, ALtran, Atos Origin Learning Solutions, CapGemini and others.

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European Centre for Development Policy and Management (ECDPM): ECDPM is an independent foundation which focuses on building an effective partnership between the European Union and the ACP countries, particularly related to development cooperation. It has facilitated ACP-EU cooperation since 1986, particularly in facilitating policy dialogue, creating understanding of processes and institutions and building capacity. It reinforces the capacities of public, private and non-profit organizations in ACP countries to better manage their own development policies and international cooperation, while working with governments and organizations in Europe to make their development policies and instruments more effective. ECDPM works in three thematic policy areas: development policy and international relations; (ii) economic and trade cooperation; and (iii) governance. It plays a strong advocacy role in the context of the EPA negotiations and has been actively providing support to ACP governments in the form of technical assistance and studies.

For more information:

International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University Rotterdam (ISS): ISS is an international graduate school of policy-oriented critical social science, which brings together students and teachers from the global South and the North in a European environment. Established in 1952 as the International Institute of Social Studies by Dutch universities and the Netherlands Ministry of Education, it does research and teaching and provides public service in the field of development studies and international cooperation. Its overall mission is to be an institutionally-independent, research-led, teaching-based graduate school in the social sciences, contributing to public debate and influencing public opinion and policy-making on issues of development, equity and human rights worldwide. Its aim is to maintain high standards of quality, training students from developing and transition countries, in particular, with its international, top-level staff. ISS is actively involved in a wide range of international capacity building and research projects and advisory services. These include long-term programmes of cooperation with teaching and research institutions and government bodies in developing countries and, more recently, in transition economies. ISS activities in this field include teaching inputs, curriculum development, contract research, policy advice on a wide range of issues, and the appraisal, formulation, evaluation and monitoring of development programmes and projects.

For more information:

Nederlands Normalisatie-instituut (NEN): NEN is a private, non-profit organization, founded in 1916 by the Netherlands Society for Industry and Trade, in cooperation with the Royal Institute of Engineers. NEN is the Dutch network in the world of standards and regulations. Its mission is threefold: (i) assuring active involvement of the trade and industry sectors in the Netherlands in the development of international and European standards and, where still appropriate, of national standards; (ii) promoting the use of standards and standardization within the Netherlands; and (iii) operating as the central point in the Netherlands for information on standards and standards development. The NEN bureau is an integrated organization serving both the Netherlands Standardization Institute and the Netherlands Electrotechnical Committee. NEN is also one of the WTO national enquiry points for TBT.

For more information:

Netherlands Senior Experts (PUM): PUM plays an important role in the field of international development assistance, sending senior experts to more than 76 countries in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Latin America and Central and Eastern Europe. It is an independent organization, with close ties with VNO-NCW, and is funded by the Dutch Government, the EU and VNO-NCW. Upon request, PUM’s experts offer their skills and experience to businesses and organizations in places where these are most needed. Its interventions are geared towards fighting poverty and encouraging sustainable development in social free-market economies around the world. To accomplish this task, PUM strives to improve the business climate, stimulates the creation of new employment and assists with the changeover to cleaner means of production. PUM works in close partnership with unions, employers’ organizations and chambers of commerce.

For more information: E-mail: and

Nuffic is the Netherlands organization for international cooperation in higher education. An independent, non-profit organization based in The Hague, it supports internationalization in higher education and research and professional education in the Netherlands and abroad, helps improve access to higher education worldwide, and plays an important role in fostering international cooperation in higher education between the Netherlands and other countries. Nuffic works closely with the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

For more information:

SNV Netherlands Development Organization: SNV is a development agency based in the Netherlands and dedicated to providing technical assistance and capacity building in West Africa, East and Southern Africa, Latin America, Asia and the Balkans. It supports providers of micro credit and venture capital which help SMEs improve their market position, and puts an emphasis on “driven capacity development.” By giving advice, SNV strengthens the capacity of individual organizations to become self-sustaining within a limited timeframe. A substantial part of its work is financed by the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, whose annual contribution − €96.5 million in 2008 − allows it to implement its core work programme.

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TCB cooperation initiatives with UN/international agencies and bilateral partners

The Netherlands Government cooperates with other bilateral donors and with the World Bank in trade related areas. An example is the Trade Facilitation Facility.

Selected TCB programmes and initiatives in this guide


  • Corporate social responsibility for greater transparency
  • Linkage between Trade, Development and Poverty Reduction (TDP)


  • Multi-Donor Facility for Trade and Investment Climate (MDF-TIC) (Indonesia)
  • Support to EPA and WTO negotiations
  • WTO Doha Development Agenda Global Trust Fund (DDAGTF)


  • Netherlands — WTO Trainee Programme
  • ACWL - Advisory Centre on WTO Law


  • Mali-Mango case – CBI intervention
  • Private Sector Investment programme (PSI)
  • Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH)


  • Consultative Task Force (CTF) on Environmental Requirements and Market Access for Developing Countries
  • Market access through meeting quality standards for food and agricultural products
  • Support for Standards and Trade Development Facility (STDF)


  • Matchmaking Facility (MMF)
  • CBI assistance to Business Support Organisations in developing countries
  • Standards and Trade Development Facility (sanitary and phytosanitary area)


  • DECP intervention in developing countries
  • Developing your Business database
  • Export Coaching Programme (ECP)
  • Marketing, research and export promotion training


  • TradeMark East Africa (TMEA)
  • Trade Facilitation Facility (TFF)


  • Facility for Infrastructure Development (ORIO)
  • Infrastructure Development Fund – FMO-IDF
  • TradeMark East Africa (TMEA)


  • Micro & Small Enterprise Fund (MASSIF)