State visit to celebrate economic relations between the Netherlands and Slovakia

Bratislava's iconic Castle will glow orange on Wednesday. During the state visit of King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima to Slovakia, a business delegation counting 34 companies will meet in the castle with Slovak companies to explore business opportunities. The Business Forum will be opened by President Caputova. HM the King will deliver a speech.

The business delegation consists mostly of companies from the waste processing, recycling, soil remediation and circular construction sectors. “Our market scan showed that that is where the opportunities lie in Slovakia, partly because of its prominent car manufacturing industry” says Henriette van Notten, deputy ambassador responsible for trade promotion.

The state visit literally opens doors. During the Business Forum on 8 March in the castle, all 34 Dutch companies will have their own table at which they receive potential customers or distributors. Hanneke Schuiling, Director General of Foreign Economic Relations, will lead the delegation.

Linking the companies is tailor-made: “During the intake interview, Dutch companies indicate what they are looking for and we try to make the match, together with a consultant and SARIO, the trade and investment agency of Slovakia. The turnout is very high. And Slovak companies notice the advantage of being present at this high profile event."

In addition to matchmaking, there are also round table discussions where participants can meet around a theme without having an appointment. "In our experience, this format often leads to remarkably interesting contacts, even among the Dutch entrepreneurs themselves," says Van Notten.

The Royal Couple and the President will join several of the conversations.

The Dutch embassy already organized a trade mission to Slovakia last year. A working visit to waste company OLO was part of this.

Soil pollution

One focus area will be on remediation of polluted soil. Soil pollution has long been a cause for concern in Slovakia. Around Bratislava, leakage from a landfill (Vrakuna) is now leading to groundwater pollution. During the state visit, representatives of the Dutch “Rijkswaterstaat", Deltares and experts in the field of soil pollution from the Dutch company Tauw will facilitate a workshop on this subject, bringing together the national government, local administrators and activists. A real example of Dutch 'poldering', which is still unexplored territory in Slovakia. 

Intensive trading relationship

Dutch exports to Slovakia – a member of the Eurogroup and Schengen – have been showing an upward trend for years. The Netherlands is one of the largest investors in Slovakia. Major Dutch companies active in the Slovak market are Heineken, ING, Nationale Nederlanden, CTP, Koppert, Neways and Union (Achmea). ACTION has recently also established itself in Slovakia with a large distribution center and is now opening its first stores. The Dutch companies together account for more than 4,500 jobs in Slovakia and that number is growing.

The automotive industry as an economic engine

With Volvo's new investment in a factory for electric cars, Slovakia is taking a new course towards making the car industry more sustainable. This creates opportunities for Dutch companies, for example with regard to charging infrastructure and the reuse and recycling of batteries.

Opportunities in circular economy

Slovakia is in the early stages of the circular economy. The country was below the EU average in terms of recycling but is now catching up. To draw attention to the importance of recycling, the President of Slovakia and the Royal Couple will feed some cans and PET bottles into a Reverse Vending Machine of a supermarket. The deposit system in Slovakia is ahead of ours, it is fully data-driven and aluminum cans can also be returned.

BlueCycle, one of the participants in the delegation, is about to acquire a plot of land for a production facility to be built in Slovakia. BlueCycle will apply an innovative method to recycle hard-to-recycle plastics. Plastics that are currently incinerated or landfilled, such as food packaging and foils. These plastics are processed into an oil by using a thermochemical process. That oil is then used as a circular raw material for making new plastics. 

Due to its high-quality standards and well-trained workforce, Slovakia is considered an attractive location for shared service centers. ING Hubs Slovakia is an example of this: it was founded in 2016 and has 1300 employees supporting customers.