International Freight in Holland
Since there are no significant trade or investment barriers in the Netherlands, the country has a thriving trade in both exports and imports. This has led to the establishment of a comprehensive freight services industry, boosted by Holland’s geographical position which makes it an important transit route for Europe as a whole. Services account for almost three quarters of the national income and are mainly in transportation, distribution and logistics as well as financial services.
This statistic reveals the importance of the freight transport industry to the economy of Holland. The strategic importance of the Netherlands extends beyond its geographical boundaries as its largest port, Rotterdam, is one of the busiest ports for freight forwarding in the world. Rotterdam is the largest port in Europe and the rivers Meuse and Rhine provide access to the hinterland upstream as far as Switzerland and France.
Between 1962 and 2004, Rotterdam was the world’s busiest port, although that distinction has since been claimed by Shanghai. In addition to services, industrial activity generates the remaining quarter of national income and is mainly in steel and aluminium, oil refining, chemicals and food processing. There is a small proportion of national income generated by agricultural products such as dairy, poultry and meat, vegetables, fruit and cut flowers.
The biggest exports are in mineral fuels, chemicals, machinery, processed food and tobacco, so freight forwarders and shipping companies have developed specialist skills in handling these kinds of cargo, all of which bring with them their own special requirements that need to be considered by the freight company or shipping company. Holland’s biggest trading partner is other parts of the European Union, which accounts for 66% of all exports and 47% of imports to Holland. Germany is the single most important of these EU countries for international freight, followed by Belgium and then the UK.
The United States is the next most significant trading partner, accounting for 5% of exports and 8% of imports. The Netherlands is the eighth largest freight transport destination for American exports in the world and the USA is the third largest investor in the Netherlands, with more than 1600 United States companies having offices or subsidiaries in Holland. In fact, the strong partnership between the United States and Holland dates right back to the American Revolution.
The close relationship is based on historical and cultural ties as well as a shared belief in the importance of individual freedom and human rights. What’s more, the Netherlands also shares with the United States a liberal trade policy and a firm commitment to the principle of free trade. This common approach has given rise to the robust level of trade and mutual investment, which means that the international freight companies supplying this sector have been able to grow in parallel.
The Netherlands is the fourth largest direct foreign investor in the United States as well as the United States being the third largest direct investor in Holland. The geographical location of Holland means that its freight forwarding infrastructure has been able to develop to attain a dominant position at the heart of Europe’s transportation network. Through its close association with the United States, this extraordinarily important role at the heart of Europe’s infrastructure also takes on a global dimension.
The Netherlands had a record trade surplus of 41 billion Euros in 2007 and so has been well placed, compared with some other countries, to withstand the worst effects of the global recession. Given its strong record of freight forwarding and trade with other European counties and also the importance of its transport infrastructure to the whole of Europe, Holland is heavily engaged in international affairs. Priority is given to enhancing European integration and ensuring European security.
As part of helping deliver this objective, the Netherlands is an active participant in the Container Security Initiative at Rotterdam. Since 2004, the Dutch have purchased and installed 40 portal monitors that give almost complete coverage of the Port of Rotterdam. The Dutch Government have also permitted United States CBP Immigration Liaison Officers to return to Schiphol Airport to assist with US-bound passenger screening.
Again, the Netherlands are showing how they regard their role as being that of a vital facilitator in relation to other countries in Europe as well as the United States. The Netherlands works in partnership with its trading partners for mutual gain and takes its role at the heart of Europe’s transport infrastructure seriously. The size and vitality of the freight transport industry in the Netherlands is testament to the lasting success of this approach.
Stephen Willis is Managing Director of RW Freight Services a UK based freight transport company, established in 1971 and operating worldwide freight forwarding services including specialist freight services to and from Holland
By Momentmal from Pixabay