For some time now Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao have been making an effort to perform as a corridor or hub function in trade activities between Europe and Latin America. Over the past few years we have seen that efforts from the Netherlands to increase trading activities with emerging economies such as Latin America, among others, have been stepped up. In order to gain an understanding of the experiences and the needs of the corporate sector in the area of trade facilitation, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in consultation with the Ministries of Economic Affairs and Interior Affairs, has instructed the research agency SEO (Stichting Economisch Onderzoek, Foundation for Economic Research) to research this. It also dovetails with the wish expressed by Minister of Foreign Affairs Bert Koenders during his stay in the region early this month, which is to have more consideration for the interests of the Caribbean parts of the Kingdom concerning economic diplomacy.
The research, from the perspective of experiences and needs of companies on the islands and in the Netherlands, aims to contribute to the discussion about follow-up action and policy measures to be taken aimed at the further development of trade activities of the Kingdom with Latin America. For this purpose a web survey was conducted within the corporate sector in the Netherlands, Aruba, Curaçao, Bonaire and St. Maarten. The researchers, together with representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Economic Affairs, have visited the leeward islands during the past few days to discuss the results of this research.
Extensive meetings with (representatives of) the corporate sector, politicians and public officials took place during this visit. Apart from an explanation of the results, they were asked during these meetings which possibilities they see to promote the economic activity within the Kingdom and with Latin America. Other topics which were discussed included the obstacles which entrepreneurs encounter in their trading activities with Latin America and the experiences of the corporate sector with available facilities which are required for this purpose, such as airport, harbour, customs and e-zone.
The results of the research confirm that the Caribbean part of the Kingdom can play a role in the promotion of trade activities with Latin America. Dutch companies which perform trade activities with Latin America and which want to expand these activities, already use these facilities and services in the Caribbean part of the Kingdom or are considering to do so.
Concrete recommendations in various areas have been made during the visit and talks. Increased economic collaboration between the leeward islands, improvements in the education and labour policies and removing specific trade barriers were emphasised by the corporate sector during this process.
The research report and research results can be downloaded from the SEO website, www.seo.nl, as of today. In the coming week SEO will issue a recommendation to the Minister of Interior Affairs, considering the Koninkrijksconferentie (Kingdom Conference) of 16 June 2015.