The Verenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie or VOC (Dutch East India Company) was established in 1602 when it was given a 21-year monopoly to trade with Asia. It went on to trade throughout Asia for two centuries before being dissolved in 1798. The VOC is often described as the world’s first multinational corporation. It was also the first company to issue stocks. These days government ministers like to invoke the VOC spirit to try to spur the Netherlands on to greater things.