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Canada-Netherlands relations

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Bilateral relations

The Canada-Netherlands bilateral relationship, rooted 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. Canada gave refuge to the Royal Family during the War and Princess Margriet was born in the Ottawa Civic Hospital. 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 people of Dutch origin now reside in Canada, a figure which translates to 3 percent 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

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited the Netherlands on October 29, 2021. He met with Prime Minister Mark Rutte, Her Royal Highness Princess Margriet, members of the Dutch Lower and Upper Houses of Parliament, and other Dutch representatives. He led a business and youth, climate and innovation event at the Rotterdam-based Global Centre for Adaptation, and held an interactive dialogue with Prime Minister Rutte and students at Leiden University.

Her Royal Highness Princess Margriet, “the Canadian Princess”, visited Ottawa in May 2022, and met with Prime Minister Trudeau and Governor General Mary Simon. Then-Governor General Julie Payette paid a two-day visit to the Netherlands in August 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-Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok made an official visit to Canada in April 2019. Prime Minister Rutte made an official visit to Canada in 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. 

The last Canadian ministerial visit to the Netherlands was by Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada the Honourable David Lametti in July 2022 to represent Canada at the Ukraine Accountability Conference co-hosted by the Government of the Netherlands, the European Commission, and the International Criminal Court (ICC). During his visit, Minister Lametti also met with Minister of Justice and Security Dilan Yeşilgöz-Zegerius and ICC Principals: Prosecutor Karim Khan, President Piotr Hofmański, and Registrar Peter Lewis.

Other recent Ministerial visits to the Netherlands have included Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, The Honourable Carla Qualtrough, and Minister of Veterans Affairs, The Honourable Lawrence MacAuley, for the Invictus Games in May 2022.

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 Kingdom of the Netherlands has an Embassy in Ottawa, Consulates-general in Toronto and Vancouver, and honorary consuls in Calgary, Edmonton, Fredericton, Halifax, Montréal, 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 basis. On an Immediate Investing Country basis, the Netherlands is Canada’s second largest source of foreign direct investment. In 2020, the stock of Dutch direct investment in Canada was valued at nearly $147.9 billion.

Bilateral merchandise trade totaled $8.7 billion in 2021, with Canadian merchandise exports to the Netherlands at $4.8 billion, and imports at $3.9 billion. In 2021, Canada’s services exports to the Netherlands totaled $1.5 billion and services imports from the Netherlands to Canada were valued at $1.8 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 has a highly-international, well-educated and diverse workforce, and an advantageous geographic position within Europe and the EU.

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. The Dutch Upper House ratified CETA and its accompanying Strategic Partnership Agreement on July 12, 2022, after it was ratified by the Lower House in February 2020.

CETA generates new economic opportunities for both Canada and the Netherlands. Canada-Netherlands bilateral merchandise trade in 2020 increased by 18.5% compared to pre-CETA (2016).

Related links

The Hague

The Hague – known as “City of Peace and Justice” – has long been synonymous with international legal institutions, the rule of law, and accountability for the most serious international crimes. In 1899, the Permanent Court of Arbitration was established to help resolve international disputes, and The Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907 were among the first international treaties addressing the laws of war and war crimes. The Hague is home to the policing institution, Europol, and to the European justice institution, Eurojust, as well as many prominent international courts, tribunals, and legal mechanisms including:

Canada supports these institutions and their important work to strengthen peaceful methods of conflict resolution, to bolster international efforts to end impunity, to promote respect for human rights and good governance, to promote multilateral efforts to combat crime and to center international law as the primary method for states to resolve disputes.

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, promotes accountability for their use, and monitors production of chemicals and their trade for legitimate purposes. Canada’s Permanent Representative to the OPCW is our Ambassador to the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The OPCW has verified the destruction of 99% of the world’s declared chemical weapons stockpiles, and is on schedule to achieve their full destruction in 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, including through support to these international organisations based in The Hague. Our bilateral partnership with the Netherlands, as host country, also helps to develop 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 and 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, combating climate change, 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. 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. Our cooperation in support of Ukraine following Russia’s invasion is but one important example. 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 and instruments, such as:

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