Rotterdam Port expands overseas

RNW archive

This article is part of the RNW archive. RNW is the former Radio Netherlands Worldwide or Wereldomroep, which was founded as the Dutch international public broadcaster in 1947. In 2011, the Dutch government decided to cut funding and shift RNW from the ministry of Education, Culture and Science to the ministry of Foreign Affairs. More information about RNW Media’s current activities can be found at https://www.rnw.org/about-rnw-media.

The port of Rotterdam is continuing to grow both at home and overseas. The ambitious company has already set foot in Oman and since recently it has also been working with Brazil. By 2015, the port wants to be operating in at least four continents. And that is definitely feasible.

Last Monday, the Port of Rotterdam signed a contract with Brazil to develop a new harbour using Dutch experience and expertise. The Porto Central, in the province of Espirito Santo north of Rio de Janeiro, is to become operational in a couple of years time. After which, a start can be made on transporting iron ore to Rotterdam.

The port is also looking forward to receiving shipments of oil, gas and container freight in the near future. Europe’s biggest port is already cooperating with the Middle East sultanate of Oman, hoping to gain influence on oil transports.

International network
It’s completely clear to port economist Michiel Nijdam, affiliated to Rotterdam’s Erasmus University, why the city has developed foreign ambitions. “Expansion in Rotterdam will come to an end sometime, so you go looking for places where you can grow. At the same time, you develop an international network. And when you see how international goods lines run – it is useful to have influence in different places. That way the freight eventually comes your way. You see that with the joint venture in Oman.”

Of course, all this extra activity is good for the Dutch economy. But businesses are also benefitting from the international contacts. Mr Nijdam: “Because the port is operating in Oman, it’s mainly Rotterdam companies developing activities there. These companies are linked to Rotterdam and are therefore more likely to send transport lines that way. So, the port is creating its own network all over the world.”

Investing in Rotterdam
Although so far there has been no movement of businesses from Oman to Rotterdam, Mr Nijdam does not rule it out: “The relations are there so you can imagine that Omanis might look to Rotterdam when they start thinking about investing in Europe.”

In addition to links with Oman and - in the near future – with Brazil, Rotterdam is already working intensively with the Germany city of Duisburg (steel, coal) and Constanta in Romania (ore, coal). Agreements have also been made with the Belgium city of Liège (oil, grain), the Nangang Port in China (port management) and Van Phong in Vietnam (containers).

Welcome partner
However, Rotterdam’s ambitions go much further. In three years time, the Dutch port wants to be connected with another three growth markets: South Africa, India and China. Mr Nijdam thinks the port will be greeted with open arms. “Rotterdam Port is a welcome partner in many countries because of the huge amount of knowledge and expertise in the fields of port construction and management. If Rotterdam Port is interested and willing to invest, then there are lots of places where it’s welcome.”

Nevertheless, in reality nine times out of ten nothing comes of negotiations with foreign ports. For instance a number of attempts to gain a foothold on Borneo and the Philippines have failed, but that is nothing new in the world of business.

(nc)