Ambassador Henne Schuwer visited students at the Thunderbird School of Global Management in Phoenix, Arizona, on January 23.


Trade is an important part of the relationship between two nations, but so is their shared history, culture, and politics.

That’s the message Ambassador Henne Schuwer delivered to students at the Thunderbird School of Global Management in Phoenix, Arizona, on January 23, during his discussion on the Dutch role in the US economy.

The ambassador started by noting the history of the university, which was named after a nearby World War II air base where pilots from around the world came to train. More than 70 years later, Dutch pilots still come to Arizona for that exact reason.

The importance of trade

Ambassador Schuwer compared the students to fighter pilots, both of whom contribute to a better and safer world, by quoting American historian Dr. William Lytle Schurz: “Borders frequented by trade seldom need soldiers.”

The partnership between the US and the Netherlands is a testament to this, as the US is the No. 1 foreign investor in the Netherlands with $723 billion in investments. And with a $274 billion investment in the US, the Netherlands is a fixture in the top five largest foreign investors in America.

In addition to discussing the relationship between the Netherlands and the US, the ambassador highlighted the importance of global political and economic issues including the Trans-Pacific Partnership, NAFTA, and the US trade deficit.

A long-standing friendship

Ambassador Schuwer also stressed that relationships between countries run deeper than their export and import numbers.

“For me, the cemetery in Margraten is as much, if not more, a measure of our relationship as the figures of investment or the figures of import and export. That’s important,” he said. “It’s important to see that your relationships with other countries are intertwined between culture, history, and politics.”

The cemetery Ambassador Schuwer mentioned is the World War II Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial in the village of Margraten. It is the final resting place for 8,301 American soldiers who died liberating the Netherlands from German occupation during World War II.

The relationship between the US and the Netherlands, he said, “started in 1609, and has held for more than four centuries.”

That year, a Dutch East India Company ship, the Halve Maen, captained by Englishman Henry Hudson, landed on the shores of what now is Manhattan, leading to the establishment of New Amsterdam by Dutch-American pioneers.

This history should not be overshadowed by the economic relationship that exists between between the US and the Netherlands.

Question-and-answer session

After his lecture, Ambassador Schuwer answered questions from the students including one about the effect that President Trump’s administration has had on Dutch companies investing in the US.

“The Dutch companies that have invested in the US are highly successful and happy with their investments,” he said. “…A lot of the companies with investments are happy with the recent tax reforms.”

Watch the full lecture: