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Dutch government set to invest €60m into shipbuilding industry

Netherlands’ historic ship building industry has dwindled in recent decades.

Posted on November 1, 2023

The Dutch Government will invest €60m ($63.6m) in “innovative shipbuilding” with the hope of re-energising the shipbuilding sector that was previously a strong point of the nation’s economy.

A report commissioned by the Hague-based government concluded: “The Netherlands has insufficient competitive construction capacity for naval ships and specialized work vessels”.

Government figures show domestic shipbuilding has dropped from 45% in 1980 to just 4% in 2023.

Marja van Bijsterveldt, the maritime manufacturing envoy of the Economy and Climate department of the Dutch government explained the investment was needed after Dutch shipyards lost much of their business to Asia: “Our maritime manufacturing industry is wrongly regarded as a quiet asset.

“Together with other countries in Europe, we have lost a large part of our global market share for commercial seagoing vessels to Asia in just a few decades. The Netherlands depends on ships for our safety… energy transition and prosperity. We can no longer afford the laissez-faire policies of recent decades.”

Alongside the investment, the government will introduce a National Maritime Manufacturing Office as well as the employment of a permanent maritime envoy.

The permanent envoy to the sector will take over from van Bijsterveldt when her term ends.

Bijsterveldt added: “Building a ship in the Netherlands is now 20-40% more expensive than in Asia, according to shipowners. Frightening figures, which will eventually prove disastrous if we do not manage to turn the tide.

Following this announcement, the Dutch government and the maritime sector are aiming to develop “five frontrunner projects”, including the Maritime Master Plan and “the shipyard of the future”.

According to the Dutch Maritime Network, the introduction of the Maritime Master Plan will contribute to the reduction of 230 billion tonnes of CO₂ by 2050 and thus a healthier environment for everyone.


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