Cebu-Netherlands ties get boost

By Victor Anthony V. Silva March 21,2017
Businessman Gordon Alan Joseph (right) is the new Netherlands Honorary Consul in Cebu. At left is Marion Derckx, Netherlands’ ambassador to the Philippines, who was in Cebu for last Thursday’s reopening of the Cebu consulate. Both Netherlands’ officials also attended last weeks a disaster risk reduction forum in Cebu City. (CDN PHOTO/JUNJIE MENDOZA)

Businessman Gordon Alan Joseph (right) is the new Netherlands Honorary Consul in Cebu. At left is Marion Derckx, Netherlands’ ambassador to the Philippines, who was in Cebu for last Thursday’s reopening of the Cebu consulate. Both Netherlands’ officials also attended last weeks a disaster risk reduction forum in Cebu City. (CDN PHOTO/JUNJIE MENDOZA)

The Kingdom of the Netherlands saw strengthened ties with Cebu as it reopened its honorary consulate here last week.

Marion Derckx, ambassador of the Netherlands to the Philippines, said they hope to forge new connections and business partnerships to deepen existing ties between the two.

“What we want is to intensify the relationship between Cebu and the Netherlands. We have been connected in recent years with the sister city partnership between Cebu and Haarlemmermeer and Kortrijk in the Netherlands,” Derckx said last Thursday during a dinner reception in honor of the reopening of their honorary consulate in Cebu City.

The diplomat said that with this partnership, she hopes to open more investment opportunities both for the Netherlands and Cebu.

The Netherlands is the 10th biggest trading partner of the country and the Philippines’ third largest source of foreign direct investment for the past 10 years, behind the United States and Japan.

A significant number of Dutch companies have established operations in the Philippines, many of which are household names.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has noted that the Netherlands is an important trading partner, accounting for close to 10 percent or US$3.74 million of total Philippine trade of US$38.32 million in 2009.

The Netherlands is also the first export destination in Europe since, for many years, the Philippines has had substantial trade surplus in the country.

Philippine exports to the Netherlands include integrated circuits, machine parts, crude coconut oil, static converters and particle accelerators, among others.

Export hub for Europe

Derckx said she saw potential in Cebu as becoming a hub for exports to Europe, a market of 500 million people, through the Netherlands.

Among the Netherlands’ unique selling points, she said, is its agri-food sector, which the country has expertise on across the whole value chain, from production to financing to logistics to knowledge.

Derckx said she also saw opportunities in the innovative sector, considering how Cebu has been nurturing its own innovative and creative industry.

Water management was also among the areas of partnership Cebu and the Netherlands can enter into, she explained.

Investments

Vitens Evides, an international water operator from the Netherlands, is already working with the Metro Cebu Water District (MCWD) to connect 80,000 urban poor residents to a safe and affordable water network.

Other investments from the Netherlands are mainly related to projects in manufacturing and energy, consumer products, business process outsourcing and housing.

Honorary consul

Presented with a commission as honorary consul was Gordon Alan “Dondi” Joseph, chief executive officer of PhilPacific Insurance Brokers and Managers, Inc. and president of the Cebu Business Club (CBC).

He also acts in various leadership capacities in different organizations involved in sustainable trade and development, including the Mega Cebu Development and Coordinating Board (MCDCB), as well as in the Regional Development Council of Central Visayas (RDC-7).

Joseph replaced Roberto “Bobby” Aboitiz of Aboitiz Equity Ventures, Inc. (AEV), who retired as consul after representing the government of the Netherlands in Cebu for 35 years.

It was Aboitiz that recommended Joseph as his replacement, Derckx said.

“I couldn’t say no to Bobby,” Joseph said in a speech last week, adding that this was in spite his qualms on accepting the role.

Same thrusts

He explained that when he met Derckx and found out what the Netherlands wanted to do in the Philippines, he realized that it was the same as what they wanted to achieve in Cebu.

“We want livable cities, we want cities that are free of poverty, cities where our children can live and have careers, and have their own families,” said Joseph.

The new consul said this can only be achieved through a work of collaboration in a global environment.

He assured that the consulate he will lead will be an active one, aimed at working to “change the world.”

With his appointment, Joseph’s commission will cover not only Cebu City but also the provinces of Aklan, Antique, Bohol, Capiz, Guimaras, Iloilo, Negros Oriental and Occidental, and Siquijor.

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