Speech by the Minister of Infrastructure and the Environment, Melanie Schultz van Haegen, at the Transport and Logistics Forum seminar, São Paulo, 10 April 2012
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am honoured to open this seminar today.
Today we are discussing opportunities for cooperation between our countries.
Efficient transport and logistics are crucial for our economic growth.
They generate and foster growth.
First-rate infrastructure forms the backbone of any economy.
We can both benefit from cooperation. Just look at the facts: first, Brazil overtook the UK last year to become the sixth-largest economy in the world. Second, the Netherlands is the gateway to Europe. We are the world’s fifth-largest exporter and the world’s seventh-largest importer. With only 16 million inhabitants, we are 16th in the world economy rankings. After the US, we are the second-biggest investor in Brazil. Rotterdam is the most important sea port from Brazil’s point of view. And the Netherlands is the fourth-largest export destination for Brazil.
We are talking here today about the management of Brazil’s cargo flows. These are increasing rapidly in the wake of your country’s economic growth.
Your impressive growth rates call for quick solutions, certainly. But they also require longer-term planning.
As the gateway to Europe, the Netherlands has built up considerable expertise in logistics.
Rotterdam is connected to the European hinterland by an excellent transport corridor – a multimodal corridor with extensive inland waterway and highway networks, rail infrastructure for high speed freight trains and an extensive pipeline network too.
Believe me, it took more than a few years to put all this in place.
And we have to work continuously on improving quality.
And here I mean quality in the sense of both efficiency and sustainability.
We are, for example, working on a modal split, with a shift towards inland shipping. And we are doing this in partnership with the private sector.
Our ports, our waterways and geographic location have brought us tremendous economic growth.
Your waterways and the size of your country give you the same potential.
No less than forty thousand kilometres are just waiting to be utilised.
That is almost once around the earth.
At present, Brazil is using only a quarter of that capacity, say the distance from Brazil to the Netherlands.
In Brazil, only three or four per cent of goods are transported by inland waterway.
In the Netherlands, we transport nearly a third!
Clearly, there is great potential for transport by inland waterway in Brazil.
You came to the same conclusion in your National Plan for Logistics and Transportation.
Inland waterways are an attractive option, making transport efficient, cheap, safe, clean and reliable.
The Netherlands is ready to work with you.
We have the expertise to help make your inland shipping sector viable and sustainable.
In the area of port development, for example.
Brazil’s ports are geared towards maritime shipping.
Equipping them for inland waterway vessels and building transshipment terminals would yield many benefits.
Seaports and inland shipping reinforce each other, and since ninety per cent of Brazil’s foreign trade goes through its ports, a shift in emphasis at its seaports would create tremendous opportunities for trade with the hinterland.
We also have considerable expertise in shipbuilding, and we have the technology to match.
In the Netherlands we have succeeded in converting to cleaner, more efficient ships.
I know that you are particularly interested in sustainable forms of transport.
Dutch companies are eager to share their knowledge and expertise with you.
And finally, the Netherlands has a lot of know-how when it comes to waterway management.
Ladies and gentlemen,
As I said before, the Netherlands is the gateway to Europe.
This is why we are so closely involved in the development of European transport corridors.
Many of them go through the Netherlands.
That means that we are examining future cargo flows and potential bottlenecks – in the context not only of infrastructure, but also of logistics.
For example, how can we smooth out customs procedures and encourage the development of short sea shipping?
Public and private parties are collaborating closely, developing specific projects and partnerships in these areas.
Smoothly functioning transport corridors are vital to our economies. It’s essential that we pay attention to them – to promote efficiency and sustainable handling of cargo flows. And a healthy environment and a competitive economy.
I wish you a very successful seminar and highly productive discussions.