General information on 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.[1] 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.


[1] The increasing inflow of refugees has led to an increase in the development cooperation spending in 2015 and 2016.

Aid for Trade Strategy

The Dutch Government’s approach to AfT is based on the assumption that trade expansion and liberalization 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 the Sustainable Development Goals, especially SDG 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 globalization 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 mobilizing 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 rise 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:

  • 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)
Contact details

Tel: +31 70 3486486

Fax: +31 70 3484848

E-mail: dgis [at] minbuza.nl">dgis [at] minbuza.nl

http://www.minbuza.nl/en/The_Ministry/Organiza- tional_Structure/Directorates_General

Physical Address
Bezuidenhoutseweg 67 The Hague
Postal address: PO Box 20061 NL-2500 EB The Hague

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.

Other government and official agencies with responsibilities directly relevant to TCB

Centre for the Promotion of Imports from Developing Countries (CBI)
Contact details

Tel: +31 (0)88 602 4300

Fax: +31 (0)88 602 4301

E-mail: cbi [at] cbi.eu

Physical Address
Prinses Beatrixlaan 2 Postbus93144 NL-2509 AC
The Hague

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.

Other offical and NON-governmental organizations involved

International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University Rotterdam (ISS)
Contact details

Tel: +31 70 426 0460
E-mail: info [at] remove-this.iss.nl

Physical Address
Kortenaerkade 12
2518 AX The Hague
The Netherlands

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.

Nederlands Normalisatie-instituut (NEN)
Contact details

Tel: 0031 152 690 391
E-mail: customerservice [at] nen.nl

Physical Address
Vlinderweg 6
2623 AX Delft

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.

Netherlands Senior Experts (PUM)
Contact details

Tel: +31 (0)70 349 05 55
Fax: +31 (0)70 349 05 90

For more information: E-mail: info [at] pum.nl

Physical Address
Bezuidenhoutseweg 12
2594 AV The Hague
The Netherlands

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.

Contact details

Tel: +31 70 4260 260

Fax: +31 70 4260 399

Physical Address
Kortenaerkade 11
2518 AX The Hague
The Netherlands

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.

SNV Netherlands Development Organization
Contact details

Tel: 0031 70 3440 244

Email: info [at] snv.org

Physical Address
Parkstraat 83
2514 JG The Hague
The Netherlands

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.

Selected TCB programmes and initiatives in this guide

Greater transparency: Corporate social responsibility (CSR)
Multi-Donor Facility for Trade and Investment Climate (MDF-TIC) (Indonesia)
Support to EPA and WTO negotiations
Netherlands — WTO Trainee Programme
Netherlands Chair Program (NCP)
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
Standards and Trade Development Facility (sanitary and phytosanitary area)
Matchmaking Facility (MMF)
DECP intervention in developing countries
Developing your Business database
TradeMark East Africa (TMEA)
TradeMark East Africa (TMEA)
Development Related Investment Vehicle (DRIVE)
Infrastructure Development Fund – FMO
Micro & Small Enterprise Fund (MASSIF)
Local Employment in Africa for Development (LEAD)
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.