Words by Melanie van Haegen, minister of infrastructure and the environment.
The maritime business climate in The Netherlands is outlined. Especially focusing on the broad Dutch maritime cluster and the benefits and opportunities involved in flying the Dutch flag. In detail its vast maritime infrastructure, highly skilled workforce, efficient and flexible manning, favourable maritime tax climate and excellent safety record and registration system and role as pioneer in sustainability are described.
The Dutch maritime cluster consists of many different subsectors, e.g. dredging, deepsea-, short sea, inland- and recreational shipping, pelagic fishing, maritime supply, offshore, dredging, shipbuilding, maritime research, hydraulic engineering and maritime services. All the subsectors are closely related and reinforce each other. The maritime cluster is strong from an economic, technological and innovative perspective. It consists of more than 12,000 companies and has a direct added value of EURO 18.7 billion a year, about 3.5 % of the total GDP of the Netherlands.
The Netherlands offers an excellent business climate, which allows maritime businesses to flourish. The economic and social climate is stable, and in technical and commercial terms, the maritime sector is highly advanced. The government has created ideal conditions for the further development of maritime know-how. Logistics and Water, including maritime, are one of the top sectors with gained additional focus from the Dutch government.
The Dutch shipping sector and the maritime cluster contribute to the competitiveness of Mainport Rotterdam – the largest port in Europe. The port attracts more than 400 million tonnes in cargo flow each year. It is of great importance to the Dutch economy and formes a port network with the other ports in the country of which the Port of Amsterdam is the largest.
The Dutch shipping register includes more than 1,200 merchant vessels (including dredging vessels). The Dutch fleet is one of the most modern fleets in the world; it is highly innovative, it has welleducated crews and offers good employment conditions. Dutch shipping policy has been designed by the government with the goal to enable shipowners to manage their vessels from the Netherlands on competitive and profitable terms. It sets to create a level playing field and to retain a high-quality reputation and strong maritime environment for its shipowners. One important aspect is the option for shipowners to determine annual fiscal profits on the basis of ship tonnage. But flying the Dutch flag offers other benefits, such as allowing companies to apply flexible crew regulations and make use of additional fiscal measures, reducing the costs of employing Dutch crews by around 30%.