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Canada-Netherlands relations

Bilateral relations

The Canada-Netherlands bilateral relationship, anchored in a shared WWII history, is dynamic and forward-looking. We benefit from mutual commercial and foreign policy interests, which flow from our common commitment to multilateralism, free and inclusive trade, and the rules-based international order. Our citizens have significant person-to-person ties underpinned by immigration past and present.

An important link in Canada’s storied military heritage

The Canadian Forces spearheaded the Liberation of the Netherlands during World War II. At the same time, Canada welcomed Her Royal Highness Princess Juliana and her family. The Royal Family gifted Canada a multitude of tulip bulbs in recognition of these wartime links. This was the genesis of Ottawa’s well-known Canadian Tulip Festival which sees millions of tulips blossom annually across the capital in recognition of the ties between our countries.

Significant people to people links

The ties forged during the Second World War led to significant people-to-people links. About one million persons of Dutch origin now reside in Canada, a figure which translates to 3% of the Canadian population. In recognition of our close bond, Canada celebrates Dutch Heritage Day on 5 May, Liberation Day in the Netherlands.

Recent high level interaction

Then-Governor General Julie Payette paid a two-day visit to the Netherlands August 30-31, 2019. She attended a commemorative event to kick off the year-long commemorations of “75 Years of Freedom,” highlighting Canada’s role in the liberation of the Netherlands. She also met with King Willem Alexander, Prime Minister Rutte and Princess Margriet and visited the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). Then-Foreign Minister Blok made an official visit to Canada on 3 April 2019. Prime Minister Rutte made an official visit to Canada on 25 October 2018. This visit also marked the first time a Dutch prime minister delivered an address to the Canadian Parliament. Their Majesties King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima of the Netherlands paid a state visit to Canada in May 2015, which included meetings with then-Prime Minister Harper and then-Governor General Johnston. 

The last Canadian ministerial visits to the Netherlands were undertaken by then-Minister of Health Petitpas Taylor (International AIDS Conference, July 2018) and then-Minister of Justice Wilson-Raybould (March 2018). The Canada-Netherlands bilateral relationship also benefits from regular engagement at municipal and provincial levels. 

Diplomatic representation

Canada is represented in the Kingdom of the Netherlands by its Embassy in The Hague, which is also accredited to the Dutch Caribbean countries of Sint Maarten, Aruba and Curaçao. The Netherlands has an Embassy in Ottawa, Consulates-general in Toronto and Vancouver, and honorary consuls in Calgary, Edmonton, Fredericton, Halifax, Montreal, Quebec City, Saskatoon and Winnipeg.

Trade relations

The Netherlands is one of Canada’s most significant trade, investment and innovation partners. It is a country with a rich history of commerce, representing a gateway to Europe across the spectrum of trade, investment, and technology exchange. The Netherlands is Canada’s seventh largest source of foreign direct investment on an Ultimate Investing Country (UIC) basis. In 2020, the stock of Dutch direct investment in Canada was valued at nearly $147.9 billion.

Bilateral merchandise trade totaled $8.6 billion in 2020, with Canadian merchandise exports to the Netherlands at $5.4 billion, and imports at $3.2 billion. In 2020, Canada’s services exports to the Netherlands totaled $1.2 billion and services imports from the Netherlands to Canada were valued at $1.6 billion.

The Netherlands has an enormous transport logistics infrastructure built around the Port of Rotterdam (the largest in Europe) and Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport. The country counts a highly international, well-educated and diverse workforce alongside its advantageous geographic position within Europe and the EU, both of which serve to attract significant investments from Canadian companies.

Canada’s Trade Commissioner Service works with Canadian companies exporting to the Netherlands, assists Dutch companies investing in Canada, and supports science, technology & innovation partnerships by placing innovation front and center.

Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA)

Provisional application of the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) started on September 21, 2017, at which time all economically significant parts of the Agreement entered into force. CETA is already generating new economic opportunities for both Canada and the Netherlands. Canada-Netherlands bilateral merchandise trade in 2020 increased by 18.5% percent compared to pre-CETA (2016). The Dutch parliament is studying legislation to ratify CETA.

Related links

The Hague

The Hague is synonymous with international legal institutions. In 1899 a meeting in the city led to the creation of the Permanent Court of Arbitration. That court has been joined by the International Court of Justice, The Hague Conference, the International Criminal Court, and ad hoc tribunals for Yugoslavia, Rwanda and Lebanon, as well as the policing institution Europol and European justice institution Eurojust. Canada supports these institutions to strengthen peaceful methods of conflict resolution, to bolster international efforts to end impunity, to promote respect for human rights and good governance, and to promote multilateral efforts to combat crime.

The Hague-based Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) implements the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) to which Canada is a State Party, along with over 190 other countries. The CWC bans the development, use, stockpiling and transfer of chemical weapons. It also monitors production of chemicals and their trade. Canada’s Permanent Representative to the OPCW is our Ambassador to the Netherlands. The OPCW has verified the destruction of 98% of the world’s “declared” chemical weapons stockpiles, and is on schedule to achieve the full destruction of chemical weapons by 2023. The Nobel Prize for Peace was awarded to the OPCW in 2013 for its extensive efforts to eliminate chemical weapons.

Canada has shown significant financial, human and intellectual leadership in building international stability, peaceful cooperation, and rule of law. Our bilateral partnerships with The Netherlands, as host country, also help to build up and sustain these institutions. 

Canada is proud of the many Canadians who serve the cause of disarmament and non-proliferation, international justice and accountability through their important work at the international organisations, Courts & Tribunals located in The Hague.

Partnerships and organizations

The Netherlands is a strong international partner and ally for Canada. We are like-minded across a broad spectrum of issues, including our common commitment to human rights, gender equality, multilateralism, and the rules-based international order. The Dutch are well-regarded multilateral players alongside Canada in the UN, NATO, OSCE, and at the various international institutions headquartered in The Hague (known as the “City of Peace and Justice”). The complementarity in our approaches provides lessons-learned in both directions. We also share mutually-beneficial partnerships and perspectives with the Dutch on security, intelligence and rule of law issues. And our interests converge in the Americas, where the Kingdom of the Netherlands – which includes the constituent countries of Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten and special municipalities of Saba, Sint Eustatius and Bonaire – is a neighbour and friend.

To develop effective responses to today’s most pressing global challenges, Canada and the Netherlands work closely in multilateral fora, such as:

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