Dutch ambassador’s visit to Norfolk will strengthen trade links between country and county

Andrew Wood, solicitor at Birketts, who has been appointed as Honorary Dutch Consul. Picture: DENISE

Andrew Wood, solicitor at Birketts, who has been appointed as Honorary Dutch Consul. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016

Norfolk will be celebrating its trading relationships with the Netherlands as a special guest visits the county this week.

The Dutch ambassador to the UK will be speaking to businesses on a tour of the county to celebrate and strengthen trade and investment links.

His Excellency Simon Smits will visit Dutch firms based in Great Yarmouth on Thursday during a tour of the town's port and will attend a business lunch hosted by mayor Kerry Robinson-Payne.

Mr Smits will also be welcomed at The Assembly House in Norwich for a dinner hosted by the city's lord mayor, David Fullman.

On Friday the ambassador will visit the University of East Anglia to attend the formal presentation of a £300,000 bequest left to the university by Dutch musician Dick van der Ven.

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He will continue on to Norwich Airport to meet with Saxon Air, the airport's Aviation Academy and KLM Engineering, followed by a business lunch for Dutch companies organised by the Netherlands British Chamber of Commerce.

The trip will end with a tour of Norwich Cathedral and a reception at Norwich Castle, where Mr Smits will open the new Rembrandt exhibition.

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Mr Smits said: 'I certainly feel no 'Stranger' here in Norfolk. The whole county is brimming with energy and activity and I can see why the Dutch over many centuries have felt at home here.'

The visit was instigated by Andrew Wood, a specialist in Anglo-Dutch law at Birketts who was last year honoured with the position of Dutch consul for the East of England.

Mr Wood said: 'Norfolk is not the end of the road and railways system in the UK – with its ports and Norwich Airport it truly is a gateway to the rest of the world through the Netherlands.'

Norfolk's relationship with the Netherlands began with the fishing trade and flourished in the 13th century when wool was exported through the Broads to the weavers of Flanders.

The Dutch and Walloon 'Strangers' were invited to Norwich in 1565, where many settled and helped shape the city and large parts of Norfolk.

Norfolk retains economic links with the Netherlands, notably oil, gas, and the growing renewables industry in the southern North Sea, as well as aviation, agri-tech and food processing.

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