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CBI Expert Conference 2016: A successful start of the new year

At CBI we opened the new year with a bang. In the first month of the year we organized the recurring CBI expert conference. As our ambassadors in CBI countries, the experts are very valuable to CBI, and the expert conference has aimed to increase our mutual cooperation and the exchange of expertise, knowledge, and experiences.

On January 19th, we welcomed 45 of our local consultants to our main offices in the Hague for a three day conference. Some of the countries that were represented were Colombia, Egypt, Uganda, South Africa, Bhutan, Indonesia, Vietnam and Pakistan. During two days, the local consultants were introduced to their counterparts, got to experience the European side of trade facilitation, and further familiarised themselves with CBI. Together, we explored new ways to cooperate.

On Thursday January 21st, the group of local consultants was joined by another 70 European CBI experts, who all came together in the CBI main office for the main event: the CBI Expert Conference. The guests were welcomed by Bas Pulles, the director of International Programmes of the Netherlands Enterprise Agency, which CBI has merged with in 2014. Other speakers included Michael Roberts, of the World Trade Organisation in Geneva, Jeroen Roodenburg, director of sustainable economic development of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Max Timmerman, the managing director of CBI.

Furthermore, the afternoon programme offered several workshops and concluded with an interactive panel session, where the audience could give realtime input with their smartphones. They shared their thoughts on the strenghts of CBI, points for improvement and their ideas on future directions.

The closing ceremony was devoted to the departure of two highly valued CBI colleagues, who can now enjoy their retirement after working for the organisation for 40 years. Dick de Man and Cor Dieleman will be missed by many!

The Expert Conference has been very succesful. All participants gave great input for CBI to move forward. The event has shown us the importance of working with so many sector experts, who all contribute towards promoting export from developing countries to the EU. The conference has created a platform where their experience can be shared and used to continue to improve the CBI programmes and working methods. We have strengthened the relationships with our experts and believe that together we will continue to build lasting partnerships.

The keynote speech by Jeroen Roodenburg about the direction of the Dutch Aid for Trade agenda, and the relevancy of CBI for Dutch development policy is attached as a download to this article.