Research – Sustainable economic development, trade and investment

In 2012, the second Rutte administration decided to appoint a minister for foreign trade and development cooperation. For the first time, the policy areas ‘aid’ and ‘trade’ were combined into a single portfolio, a single budget and a single policy agenda under the acronym Dutch acronym BHOS. Article 1 'Sustainable economic development, trade and investment' of the combined BHOS policy agenda is a key focus of this policy review.

This far-reaching merging of policy areas, which brought together policy objectives in development cooperation and foreign trade, was accompanied by the relocation of the Directorate-General for External Economic Relations (DGBEB) from the Ministry of Economic Affairs to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This relocation was partly prompted by the pursuit of greater policy coherence (coherence) and synergy (added value through coherence) in policy in these areas.

Key question

The policy review is a synthesis study of all policy under BHOS article 1 ‘Sustainable economic development, trade and investment’ and addresses 15 research questions from the Order on Periodic Evaluation and Policy Information (RPE). These questions concern both the effectiveness and efficiency of the policy and the various instruments, as well as the interrelationship between instruments and potentially (positive or negative) side effects.

To what extent are the components of the aid and trade policy effective and efficient? To what extent and how does the combined policy portfolio contribute to the intended synergies between aid and trade?

Underlying research

The 'synthesis' element indicates that the policy review brings together what is known about the effectiveness and efficiency of the policy. The policy review thus provides:

  • An overview of the extent to which the policy area has been evaluated in terms of effectiveness and efficiency.
  • An evaluation of the effectiveness and efficiency of the policy area as a whole. In other words, all the instruments in relation to one another. This makes it possible to assess the effectiveness and efficiency of the combination of instruments used, rather than just assess each instrument individually.

The Terms of Reference contain an overview of the underlying evaluation material.


Peter Henk Eshuis - contact person
Otto Genee
Jelmer Kamstra
Alexander Otgaar


  1. Ready: Exploration
  2. Ready: Terms of Reference adopted
  3. In process: Research in progress
  4. Report adopted
  5. Drafting policy response
  6. Report to parliament