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Goodwill cements friendships

TODAY, on the occasion of the official celebration of the birthday of Her Majesty Queen Beatrix of The Netherlands, it is my privilege to convey my very best wishes, not only to the Dutch community but to the people of Hongkong.

Through the years, Hongkong has shown a tremendous hospitality and friendship towards its citizens of Dutch descent.

The Netherlands and Hongkong have, in many respects, common positions.

Hongkong stands at the gateway to China and is located at the heart of the most rapidly growing regional economy in the world.

The establishment of the Single European Market from last year is extremely important and challenging for Hongkong, and The Netherlands is the door to Europe.

Europe now offers more buying power, more business opportunities, fewer barriers and lower costs. Furthermore, both The Netherlands and Hongkong have traditionally also been keen believers in free trade.

Last year's bilateral trade flow grew by 32 per cent, which, in comparison with the respectable overall growth of Hongkong's trade, shows the healthiness growth potential of our trading experiences.

In view of the consolidation of these strong ties, The Netherlands last year concluded an Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement with Hongkong, the first of its kind.

On 19 November, 1992, the Secretary for Trade and Industry, Mr T. H. Chau, and the Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade, Miss Yvonne van Rooy, put their signatures to this agreement.

To highlight this event, a Holland Promotion Dinner was organised to provide Dutch business circles in Hongkong with an opportunity to entertain their business friends in a true Dutch atmosphere.

This November, a major promotional presentation will be mounted at the Piazza in Kowloon Park. This will be aimed at making the Hongkong community aware of The Netherlands and its products.

This ''Holland Village'' will be, like the one in Victoria Park in November, 1991, again full of flowers, food and folklore.

Another obvious Dutch presence in Hongkong is the fleet of dredgers working on all land reclamation projects, on Chek Lap Kok and in the harbour itself. These ships are building up the new land needed for Hongkong's great and ambitious expansion plans.

All this underlines the confidence the Dutch have in the future of Hongkong and it also means that they are, in their own way, effectively working at it.

Friendship requires deeds and I believe that in this respect the Dutch have shown their goodwill.

On this theme, and referring to the introduction of this message, I would like to conclude with a quote from Woodrow Wilson, the former United States president: ''Friendship is the only cement that will ever hold the world together.''