Dutch Kingdom well represented at inauguration of expanded Canal Zone in Panama
PANAMA CITY - The expanded Panama Canal was officially opened recently. The Dutch Kingdom was well represented during the official ceremony. The Prime Minister of Curaçao Dr. Bernhard Whiteman was also present together with the Dutch Deputy Prime Minister Lodewijk Asscher. They were there especially to talk to companies, and to lobby.
It took almost ten years and reportedly 7 billion dollars, but now it’s finished and ready to use. The expanded Panama Canal has been officially open a century after the opening of the original canal. There larger ships can now go through. This makes shipping routes shorter.
Opportunities for Dutch companies
The Panama Canal is also beneficial for the Netherlands. The floodgates are of Dutch origin, but that's not all. The Netherlands based company Boskalis is building islands in Panama. Asscher had a breakfast meeting with a group of Dutch companies that see opportunities in Panama.
Asscher points out that it is going very well with the Panamanian economy. "An economic growth rate of 6 percent a year and we are very interested in doing business with them. So there are many opportunities for the Netherlands,” says Asscher. The Netherlands is strong in certain niches, such as dredging, engineering and shipbuilding. “We are very welcome here. It also helps us that we are represented in this region by Curaçao and Aruba. That gives the Netherlands a small lead.”
Asscher adds that he also attended the opening to give a final push to the Dutch lobby for a UN Security Council seat. “I have spoken with a lot of countries - presidents, vice-presidents - to support the Dutch candidacy.”