Netherlands targets South Florida trade
By Meisha Perrin
Dutch relations with the US are better than ever, according to new Consul General Simone Filippini, who arrived in Miami in August with a primary goal of growing business investments between the two countries.
If you look at where American foreign investment is going, Ms. Filippini said, the Netherlands is the biggest destination of the US foreign direct investment.
That, she said, has to do with not only the favorable tax climate in the Netherlands but also with the country being the gateway to Europe through the Rotterdam port, once the world's busiest port, and the active Schiphol airport, home base of the KLM Royal Dutch Airline since its inception.
She also mentioned that the Netherlands is the third largest investor in the US; investments that she said started with real estate and banking and spread to offshore technology, renewable resources, logistics and transport, and maritime logistics.
According to the Florida Foreign Trade Association, trade with the Netherlands and the U.S Customs District Miami was valued at about $1.46 billion last year, a 43.6% increase over 2010, with $899.8 million coming from imports. The Netherlands, therefore, was among the top five European countries to do trading in the Miami district in 2011.
The Dutch consulate in Miami under Ms. Filippini, plans to take advantage of these favorable relations between Dutch businesses and the US by fostering the growth of business investments and building partnerships to stimulate the development of the Dutch community in the Southeastern US.
In particular, she said, the consulate is focusing in Miami on agri-food, logistics, the creative industries, life sciences and health, and, of course, water in efforts to create a "sustainable Miami."
"We are working with the South Florida Water Management District in setting up a cooperative to work together on developing a strategy to manage the water of Florida in the future," Ms. Filippini said. "And if you look at a city like Miami, you can't just look at water, you have to also look at sustainable urban development."
The consulate, she said, intends to work with the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce, the Beacon Council, Miami's Community Redevelopment Agency and other organizations to figure out how to make sure Miami can "keep its head above the water" — both literally and figuratively.
In addition to helping with water management, she said, the Dutch consul hopes to bring other successes from the Netherlands — such as the super yacht industry, greenhouse technology and medical simulation programs — to the US.
"I believe in building win-win situations for American and Dutch government relationships, people to people contact, and government to business," Ms. Filippini said. "We explore the possibilities to scan the market to actively approach companies in the Netherlands and US organizations. We try to be the liaison."
According to Ms. Filippini, the consulate aims to be a "knowledge broker" for the many companies that can't find their way to the US on their own because it is a difficult market to jump into.
"Everybody is looking for new opportunities — that is the good thing with a crisis," she said. "Everyone is actively looking for new business and new business partners, and everyone wants to get it done for the best price."
The consulate, she hopes, can help provide those businesses with the cost-effective methods to get things done.
In addition, Ms. Filippini said she wants to get more Dutch design companies to Miami in fields of urban sustainable design, fashion and dance. She said design and high-technology business go hand-in-hand.
The consulate also has a special focus on getting as many head offices here as possible for those Dutch companies that want to work in South and Central America.
Ms. Filippini came loaded with ideas on how to link the Netherlands and the Southeast US, particularly Florida, much more actively through the Dutch consulate, and said she believes much room remains to further improve and deepen the already good business relations between the two countries.
"That is what I stand for," she said, "to see to it that business investment figures will improve."
"It is not just my work," she said. "It is also my hobby."
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