In Depth: Dutch Seaports Join Forces

On 25 June Dutch Minister of Infrastructure and the Environment Melanie Schultz van Haegen, the five Dutch seaports (Port of Rotterdam, Port of Amsterdam, Zeeland Seaports, Port of Moerdijk and Groningen Seaports), the seaports’ industry and Topteam Logistiek all signed the work programme Seaports 2014-2016. Together, they will start working on strengthening the seaports’ position, nationally as well as internationally. Maritime by Holland Magazine was present to witness their plans.

“At the moment the Dutch seaports are doing well on international lists, for example as service provider, and the Dutch infrastructure is praised as well. However, we can only maintain this position by making a cooperative move. It shows a lot of courage for these competitors to reach out to one another, and this is what will enable us to maintain our leading position”, says Schultz van Haegen.

The programme

In short the work programme, called ‘All hands on deck’, consists of six points of attention: the seaports and Europe, accessibility and logistics, entrepreneurship and the labour market, sustainability and innovation, seaports and their environment and the last one, port collaboration and the safeguarding of public interest. Together, these points comprise 20 operations; ten for the government and ten for the seaports and the industry.

Schultz van Haegen: “I think that there are two main points of action, one for the government and one for the seaports. The first one is a point of attention for ourselves and involves the laws and regulations. It is up to us to cut down the numerous different laws. The second main point is the improvement of the logistic chain in the Netherlands, which is up to the ports themselves.”

Other points of action include the government’s commitment to decrease the support the neighbouring ports of Antwerp and Hamburg receive from their governments and therefore to enlarge the level playing field in Europe. The seaports and the port industry on the other hand will join efforts to, for example, create opportunities in which future employees are trained to satisfy the future needs and demands of the ports and the industry.

Cooperation in the harbour

Allard Castelein, CEO of the Port of Rotterdam comments: “The Dutch investment climate is under pressure and this work programme has to ensure that our position in Europe will become stronger. Therefore, it is justified that the programme focuses on equal rules for all ports in Europe, accessibility, sustainability and innovation.”

Paul Wevers, chairman of ORAM (the Amsterdam Region Business Association), among others the branch association for all port-related companies in the Amsterdam port area, adds: “The competitive position of the Dutch seaports has to improve and the different inspection pressures in Europe have to decrease. This programme actively addresses these issues. It is a good result of the cooperation between the government, seaports and port businesses.”

Anne Kregting

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