India has got the Netherlands to tacitly criticise China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and underline that international connectivity initiatives must be based on the respect to the sovereignty of the nations.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Dutch counterpart Mark Rutte met in New Delhi on Thursday and agreed to expand trade and economic ties between two countries and step up bilateral cooperation in agriculture and water as well as science and technology.
The prime minister of the Netherlands arrived in New Delhi on Thursday. His visit saw the signing of three government-to-government agreements and 48 business-to-business agreements for cooperation in the field of education, water, agrifood and horticulture, hi-tech, information technology, space, life sciences and health, smart cities, business and sustainability.
Modi and Rutte underlined that connectivity initiatives “must be based on the key principles of international norms, good governance, rule of law, openness, transparency; follow social and environmental standards, principles of financial responsibility, accountable debt-financing practices; and must be pursued in a manner that respects sovereignty and territorial integrity”, according to a joint statement issued after the meet of two prime ministers at Hyderabad House in New Delhi.
New Delhi has been opposing the Belt and Road Initiative of Beijing, charging that its key component China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) would violate the sovereignty of India. The CPEC is proposed to pass through areas, which India claims to be an integral part of its Jammu and Kashmir state, albeit under illegal occupation of Pakistan.
The BRI of China also came under criticism for exposing the smaller participating nations to the risk of being caught in a debt-trap.
Modi and Rutte on Thursday underlined the importance of stepping-up connectivity between the two countries through the sea route. They agreed that the untapped potential for direct port-to-port contacts as well as cooperation in the area of port infrastructure development and shipping should be further explored.
They underlined the significant role the Netherlands could play as India’s ‘Gateway to Europe’.
India is the fifth largest source of foreign direct investment (FDI) in the Netherlands. The Netherlands is the fourth largest source of the FDI to India.
The two prime ministers reaffirmed the “crucial role of the rules-based multilateral trading system, and the importance of enhancing free, fair, and open trade for achieving sustainable growth and development”.
They reaffirmed their commitment to work together with all members of the World Trade Organisation, underscoring “centrality of the rules-based multilateral trading system and its importance for open and inclusive global trade”.