Rotterdam, a port of call for Indian companies into Europe
An investment expert at Rotterdam Partners lays down the many opportunities for investment and trade that the port city offers Indian businesses looking to expand into Europe.
I found myself stuck between a rock and a hard place while writing this piece during these trying times. On the one hand, I would like to write an optimistic piece on opportunities for Indian companies in Rotterdam, whereas on the other hand, a lot of companies tell me daily about the severe impact the Covid-19 crisis has on their business, their employees’ health and safety and the worry if business will ever return to what it was pre-Covid-19. I sincerely hope that the responses taken by our perspective governments will be sufficient in containing the virus, thereby sparing lives. But I also hope the relief measures prove their worth and are able to support most businesses that endure a severe fall back in revenues. I feel that both the Indian and the Dutch government are trying their very best to contain the outbreak and keep businesses afloat.
The Netherlands and India have a strong relationship and I am particularly proud of what Rotterdam has to offer for Indian companies. It is not only about trying to provide seamless trade, it is more. Rotterdam is a dynamic metropolis, internationally acclaimed as the gateway to Europe. Our port is the central hub of Europe’s largest maritime cluster, but we are also a key player on a global scale in other strong economic sectors. Thanks to our many internationally renowned knowledge institutions, a thriving international business community, high-quality culture and architecture, and a highly diverse population, Rotterdam is the total package. Our strategic location in Europe literally connects us to the rest of the world.
A hub for innovation
The strong ties between India and The Netherlands, highlighted by the visit of His Majesty King Willem-Alexander to India just last year, makes sure that The Netherlands serve as a hub for Indian investments into the European Union. By making The Netherlands the starting point for investments in the EU, Indian companies stand to benefit from our favourable location, fast and reliable regulators, accessibility and competitive tax system. To support Indian businesses, The Netherlands offers various strong clusters in which companies, universities and the government all invest in cooperation and innovation. Although The Netherlands is a geographically small country, we are world players on a variety of clusters: from agriculture to creative industries, and from chemicals and high-tech to life sciences & health and logistics. There is a good reason the Netherlands has the 4th most competitive economy in the world, and the most competitive economy in Europe. We are the second highest agri-food exporter in the world, a frontrunner on innovation and digitisation and named one of the best-connected countries in the world.
The Indo-Dutch business connect
The Netherlands is becoming more and more popular as a destination for Indian firms, with over 200 Indian companies having set up their European operations in the country. About a quarter of them have set up in the Rotterdam-The Hague area. Most notably in Rotterdam are the brand new rice processing facility of LT Foods, who chose Rotterdam because of our logistics expertise and efficiency, and the local headquarters of UPL, named Cerexagri, who produce crop protection.
The collaboration and investments are also very visible the other way around. The Port of Rotterdam has an agreement with the Gujarat Maritime Board and recently signed two Memoranda of Understanding with the Maharashtra Maritime Board and the State Government of Kerala. Furthermore, The Port of Rotterdam is also supporting the Erasmus University Rotterdam and the Dutch Shipping & Transport College, for providing consultancy services related to the establishment of a maritime university in Gujarat.
Post Brexit trade
A topic often addressed, also in relation to the Port of Rotterdam, is unfortunately the post-brexit trade relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union. Although the transition period will probably end this year, the change of having a fully negotiated future relationship agreement is slim. Therefore, we have been preparing for the worst but hoping for the best as we have been preparing to mitigate the potential negative effect border checks can have on the trade flows. We will be able to scale up the customs checks, increase holding capacity and work alongside HMRC for a smooth transition. Brexit unmistakably has an impact on international supply chains with a lot of cross border shipments. The Netherlands offers solutions for instance for goods shipped from India into Europe via The Netherlands and then onwards to the UK as goods can be stored in bonded warehouses where custom duties are suspended. In Rotterdam, many well-known logistic suppliers can help provide these solutions.
These are just a few examples of the intensive and strong relations between India and Rotterdam. The Netherlands and I hope that we can intensify and strengthen these relationships regardless of the various crises affecting us. I look forward to welcoming you to Rotterdam!
Amidst the outbreak of Covid-19 the Dutch government has launched a roadmap with up-to-date information and support measures for companies in the Netherlands. The Dutch government introduced various arrangements providing financial help for employers. For instance, to pay their employees’ wages regarding the COVID-19 crisis or to apply for a payment extension for income tax, corporate tax, payroll tax, and turnover tax (VAT). Rotterdam Partners International Trade & Investment, can support companies in starting and expanding their business in Rotterdam, as well as when they want to invest in Rotterdam.
Jorn Douwstra is the Manager International Trade & Investment for Rotterdam Partners leading the Foreign Direct Investment, Trade and Expat Centre teams.