New Delhi: Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte arrives in India on Thursday with one of the largest business delegations ever to Asia’s third largest economy to scout for economic tie-ups as the European Union prepares for Britain’s departure from the 28-member grouping in March 2019.
Rutte’s two-day stay in India includes a visit to New Delhi where he will hold talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, besides speaking to Indian business leaders. He will also visit Bengaluru before returning home on Friday. Rutte’s previous visit to India was in 2015 with PM Modi stopping by at the Hague last year.
Rutte is accompanied by four cabinet ministers, including those in charge of the health, trade and infrastructure portfolios, besides a delegation of over 200 members, including 15 CEOs, academics and government representatives. The business delegation will represent infrastructure, education, health and life sciences, water and waste management besides agro-processing.
“We have a few groups of companies with us, a few sectors of which we know India has big ambitions for," Hans de Boer, head of the Dutch Confederation of Netherlands Industry, told a group of Indian journalists visiting the Hague last week.
“For me, it is a puzzle that economic relations are not at a higher level," de Boer said. “You have had your orientation mostly on the UK. So, most companies are there and only 180 companies here," de Boer said, referring to Indian companies using the UK as a springboard to do business with Europe.
Brexit, he said, would bring more Indian companies—looking to deepen business links with Europe—to the Netherlands. Besides, de Boer said that “in the coming decades, India will take off and we want to be part of that".