On 15 January the first 'Dutch Maritime Strategy' was submitted by Minister Schultz van Haegen (Infrastructure and Environment). In a joint response, Damen Shipyards Group (Damen) and Royal IHC (IHC), two of the largest players in the Dutch shipbuilding industry, commented: “The document is a good start for further cooperation.”
Both companies agree that the joint strategy, which combines major maritime themes such as human capital, innovation, trade, accessibility & safety, and sustainability, is a positive development. The sector broadly participated in the drafting this long-term strategy: the golden triangle of government, industry and research institutions.
However, Damen and IHC believe that shipbuilding, one of the important cornerstones of the manufacturing industry which is important for The Netherlands, is under-represented in the document. The focus is also too much on The Netherlands and the western approach. Export is of great importance for a significant part of the maritime industry, including shipbuilding. A dynamic approach is a necessity, with accompanying robust and consistent export instruments, especially in a world of changing relations.
In addition, the creating of commercial opportunities in emerging markets by applying Dutch knowledge and skills should be emphasised in the strategy. Finally, development aid is a valuable tool for promoting trade, with benefits for the countries concerned as well as the Dutch business community. This topic is only mentioned indirectly in the strategy.
Damen and IHC are committed to the strategy’s ultimate goal and will contribute to the joint efforts to achieve a "sustainable international maritime platform for The Netherlands", as described by Secretary Schultz’s letter accompanying the strategy. The two companies concluded: "With more attention to the above points, the strategy will be more complete and there will be a better chance of success.”