Dutch Embassy Aims to Increase Trade With North Sumatra

The Dutch Embassy in Indonesia officially launched a “hybrid” program to connect Dutch companies with potential business partners from North Sumatra. Focusing on the nexuses of AgriFood-Water and Waste Management-Renewable Energy, the program intends to strengthen the connections made prior to the pandemic, and to explore sustainable business collaboration. The Embassy will facilitate a combination of online and offline activities, going from increased online interaction over the coming months, to a visit to the province in the fall, as soon as COVID circumstances allow for it.

North Sumatra enjoys impressive economic growth, and has much business potential to unlock. Developments in the province’s primary economic sectors provide plenty of opportunities for mutually beneficial collaboration with Dutch companies and institutions. This Embassy-led program follows up on the State Visit of the Dutch King and Queen to Lake Toba in March 2020, also building upon existing connections and economical presence in North Sumatra.

 “We as an Embassy believe that together with partners in North Sumatra we should be able to do better in matching supply and demand between the Netherlands and North Sumatra, and intensify trade relations between us.” stated Hans de Brabander, Head of the Economic Department of the Embassy, during the virtual Kick-Off session of the program on 28 April.

The Kick Off event on 28 April marked the official beginning of the program. More than 100 virtual attendees from the Netherlands and Indonesia were briefed on the program details and available opportunities.

Hans will lead this mission, together with Dutch Agricultural Counselor in Indonesia, Joost van Uum. The Government of North Sumatra also fully supports this program. Provincial Secretary Dr. Hj. R. Sabrina M.Si, who delivered opening remarks during the Kick-Off event, emphasized; “The Government of North Sumatra is ready to facilitate if there are things needed (to ensure) that investment opportunities can be realized, with hope to bring benefits to all economic actors”.[1] The Embassy is cooperating closely with the Provincial Government in implementing this program, in line with the Province’s vision on accelerating development in various sectors. Since 2018, both Governments have regularly met and exchanged ideas to improve economic relations through trade, investment, and knowledge sharing.

Hans was in Medan in mid-May to bid farewell to the Provincial Secretary, who is entering retirement age, and to meet with the different stakeholders in the Provincial Government. This visit also aimed to prepare the upcoming virtual “focus sessions”. During the discussion at their office, the Provincial Secretary re-iterated the Provincial Government support for the program, as indicated by the participation of the different Heads of Agencies within the Provincial Government of North Sumatera during that meeting.

AgriFood-Water Nexus: Improving Indonesia’s Food Resilience through Collaboration in Horticulture, Agro-Forestry, and Water for Food

Sustainability is at the core of the Dutch Government’s trade and investment policy, as well as the foundation of all the Dutch Embassy’s work strands in Indonesia. This is reflected in the four focus sectors of this program.

For AgriFood-Water, special emphasis is put on the development of the food system in Humbang Hasundutan Regency, South West of Lake Toba. This is in line with the Indonesian Government’s ambition to develop food production, with the goal to transform subsistence farming into business farming. “This development gives a lot of possibilities and opportunities for the Dutch agro sector. In this trade mission and the focus sessions, we will try to identify how the Netherlands could collaborate with Indonesia on ensuring the Government initiative for the food system, and especially the one in North Sumatra, with the right technology and knowledge from seed to post harvest and all aspects in between.” stated Joost van Uum during the Kick-Off event.

Waste-Renewable Energy Nexus: Access to Energy for all by Utilizing Local Resources

The Province’s geographical and demographic characteristics provide much room for collaboration on scaling-up the use of renewable energy (from waste), as well as on waste management in general. Numerous sustainable business prospects can be explored.   

 “We see many opportunities and possibilities in North Sumatra, and in the focus session in July we want to explore this further with you. We try to identify what other renewables can be used, especially in remote areas and how to manage waste and give added value to it. Presentations from Government officials and local private developers will seek to address the demand side, whilst Dutch technology providers will feature state-of-the-art knowledge that offers low-cost solutions.” Joost continued.


Virtual “focus sessions” on the aforementioned topics will be held from June until September. The Embassy aims to visit the Province in the fall (third/fourth quarter of 2021), together with participating Dutch companies/institutions, especially those already present or active in Indonesia. This is of course subject to COVID-19 circumstances.

In addition to the sector-specific events, a session on exporting to Europe for North Sumatra-based exporting Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) will be hosted in collaboration with the Centre for the Promotion of Imports from developing countries (CBI), an organization funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 

Dutch and North Sumatran companies can register to the Southeast Asia Business Platform to access the calendar of the program and participate in the virtual “focus sessions”. Updates and changes on the program will also be communicated through the platform. (Link: https://virtual-mission-asean5.b2match.io/)

For more information, please contact the Economic Department of the Embassy through JAK-EA@minbuza.nl.

[1] Unofficial translation of Dr. Hj. R. Sabrina M. Si.’s opening remarks, delivered in Bahasa Indonesia during the Kick-Off event on 28 April. Original transcript is available here.