On Thursday, 15 November, the standing committee on Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation (FTDC) of the Dutch Lower House will discuss the new Dutch Trade Agenda, which will implement the ‘Investing in Perspective’ government policy document.

In this document, Dutch Minister Sigrid Kaag focuses on the following themes: gender equality and strengthening the position of women and girls, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as international guiding principles for FTDC policy, a human rights approach in the foreign policy of the Netherlands, and promotion of sustainable, inclusive growth and climate action worldwide.

However, the Trade Agenda, which should put this policy document into effect, pays little attention to the minister’s central policy themes. In a joint letter (download below, Dutch only), the civil society organisations SOMO, TNI, WO=MEN, BothEnds and ActionAid have called attention to the following points regarding gender equality, human rights and climate:

  • The Trade Agenda should develop clear objectives and indicators in the field of gender equality;
  • The minister must implement mandatory due diligence, including gender due diligence, on human rights and improve access to justice for victims of human rights violations by companies;
  • The minister must apply coherent human rights policy in the implementation of trade policy. Compliance with human rights conventions must be a guiding principle in the country risk profile criteria of Atradius DSB, FMO, InvestNL and other trade promotion instruments;
  • The government must reduce financial and diplomatic support for the fossil-fuel activities of the Dutch export and import industry.