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The Netherlands after the elections: focus on up-and-coming Asia

International symposium at the University of Groningen, twelve days before the national elections
24 August 2012

The future of the Netherlands will be under discussion during an international symposium at the University of Groningen twelve days before the national elections in September. The main question will be how we can emerge from the current financial crisis as a stronger and more competitive country. Speakers will include Klaas Knot, president of De Nederlandsche Bank, SER chairman Alexander Rinnooy Kan and Europe specialist and former Deputy Prime Minister Laurens Jan Brinkhorst.

Different world

‘What we really need is the nerve to propagate a vision that makes the Netherlands an outwardly oriented nation once again’, says Prof. Rien T. Segers, professor-director of the Center for Japanese Studies of the University of Groningen. ‘Hundreds of large Asian companies are about to come to the West. It is of the utmost importance for the Netherlands that many of those companies settle here, but that will not happen automatically. So how can we make it happen?’
Segers: ‘The world will look totally different after the crisis than it did before in many respects. The worldwide leading position of the United States will no longer be taken for granted, and the future of the euro and even that of the European Union are far from certain.’ In the midst of all this turmoil, he thinks it will be very difficult for the Netherlands to quickly form a stable government coalition after the elections. And there is another problem: the world’s centre of gravity is quickly shifting from West to East.

Symposium: focus on Asia

What implications will all these developments have for the Dutch strategy after the elections in September? Which measures must be taken to ensure that the Netherlands will emerge from the current crisis as a strong and competitive country? The symposium will aim to answer these questions in the form of presentations by top specialist such as Klaas Knot, president of De Nederlandsche Bank, Alexander Rinnooy Kan, chairman of the Social and Economic Council of the Netherlands (SER), Laurens Jan Brinkhorst, Europe specialist and former Deputy Prime Minister, top economist Harry Garretsen (University of Groningen) and Asia specialist Rien T. Segers (University of Groningen).

Stimulate to settle

The symposium will emphasize that it is high time for the Netherlands to stop thinking in terms of ‘making cuts’ and start ‘making money’. After all, every extra euro earned does not have to be cut. This implies that the Netherlands should focus on the rapidly growing countries in Asia, such as China, India, Singapore, Taiwan and South Korea, as well as Japan, which is currently busy entering into joint ventures with Western companies. The Netherlands should not only focus on doing more business in these countries, but particularly also on stimulating as many Asian companies as possible to settle in our country.


The symposium will discuss and present two reports that answer the following two questions: ‘How can we respond to the fact that the 21st century is the Asian Era?’ and ‘How can we make as much profit from this as possible, so that we don’t have to make as many cutbacks?’ The reports were drawn up by the SER, led by Alexander Rinnooy Kan, and the University of Groningen led by Rien T. Segers.

The 'Future of the Netherlands in the Asian Era' symposium will be held, in English, on Friday 31 August 2012, 3 – 5.30 p.m. in the Academy Building of the University of Groningen. Admission: free, one can sign up via

Further information

- About the organization: Alette Arendshorst, symposium manager, Center for Japanese Studies,, tel. 06-44 04 41 63

- About the programme content: prof.dr. Rien T. Segers, professor-director Center for Japanese Studies,, tel. 06–46 39 39 12

Last modified:13 March 2020 01.52 a.m.
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