Published On: Mon, May 21st, 2018

The Netherlands has confidence in Curaçao again

Martina_KaagTHE HAGUE, WILLEMSTAD - The Rhuggenaath Cabinet seems to have regained the confidence of The Hague in Curaçao as a cooperation partner. After the relationship between the two countries fell to well below freezing after 10-10-10, the relationship remained on the cool side in recent years. Everything indicates that with the coming of differently composed coalitions in both the Netherlands and Willemstad the ties are better.

This was also noted by minister of Economic Development Steven Martina this week during his working visit to The Hague. Where ministers from previous cabinets were received from perfunctory politeness, there is now a warm welcome. And more importantly, the will to intensify the collaboration is great. Martina met that willingness in his talks with Undersecretary Raymond Knops of the Interior and Kingdom Relations and the Ministers Stef Blok of Foreign Affairs and Sigrid Kaag of Foreign Trade.

Economic diplomacy

“We mainly talked about the possibilities to support each other in the field of economic diplomacy. If the ministers Blok and Kaag are abroad, they represent the entire Kingdom. Work is being done to map countries and sectors that are important for Curaçao so that we can join trade missions. We have been together several times - in Cuba, Santo Domingo and Colombia - and that was successful. We have received excellent support from the embassies,” says Martina.

“In every conversation I had this week, the current situation around the refinery came first. That is logical. We are in the same situation because of the simultaneous seizure of oil stocks in Curaçao and Bonaire. There is good mutual consultation.

Martina is optimistic about finding a new operator for the refinery. “A consultant is helping us with the selection of candidates. We will first design the terms of reference and then we want to make a decision in 2019 so that we can start modernization or renewal in 2020. “What helps is the rising price of oil on the world market. That makes the business case better, but it also has another side: the costs for fuel and energy also increase.”

Business

In addition to administrative consultations, Martina also held discussions with partners from the business community such as the Port of Rotterdam and KLM. “For KLM, the route to Curaçao is important. There is room to expand this further. I have also tasted that KLM is willing to enter into a code share agreement with InselAir once the situation is stable. We are working on finding a strategic partner. There are four serious candidates. In the middle of this year we want to continue talking with one of them on the basis of exclusivity.”

To underline that the weather is good between The Hague and Willemstad, Martina has another news: “On June 21, we hold an investor relations event in the Netherlands. Prime Minister Rutte has promised to come and speak.”

By Rene Zwart

Photo: Steven Martina spoke with fellow Minister Sigrid Kaag about economic diplomacy.

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