AMSTERDAM: Dr. Taco Westerhuis is the First Secretary of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Nigeria. Responsible for trade and investment relations between both countries, he works from the Lagos Office of the Embassy. Before his posting to Nigeria, Westerhuis was in charge of West Africa relations at the Dutch Ministries of Economic Affairs and Foreign Affairs.
While travelling through Africa with friends, he became concerned about the seemingly distorted views Africans and Europeans hold of one another and applied to be posted within the re-opened Dutch office in Lagos, which was granted by the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs in August 2013. In this interview with Kehinde Olatunji, he talks about the trade relations between the Kingdom of Netherlands and Nigeria.
What is the trading relationship between the Kingdom of the Netherlands and Nigeria, in terms of volume?
A lot of Nigerian oil goes to Netherlands, and after the oil has been refined in the Netherlands, some of it goes back to Nigeria. Nigeria exports to a value of about 4bn Euros to the Netherlands, and Dutch exports constitute a value of some 3bn Euros. About two-thirds of these flows are oil related. But though substantial, it’s just a part of the trade relations. In agriculture goods for instance, cocoa is one of the main produce for which Amsterdam is a central hub in the world trade. Other products that find their way to the Netherlands are leather, shrimps, fish, copper, rubber, and sesame seeds.
A field in which a lot of improvement is possible is services. While services constitute the largest share of Nigerian income (GDP) today, exports to the Netherlands only lay at some 180 million Euros. On the other hand, the Netherlands exports services for about 800 million Euros to Nigeria. So, there is much to be gained in that field, and that is what we have to be working on as an Embassy as well. Having established that in goods there is still a lot going on: there is a continuous loop of ships daily going from the Lagos and Rotterdam ports carrying containers with goods