Courting business, Dutch PM promises to visit Israel
Gas exploration a growing field of shared interest.
MARK RUTTE Photo: REUTERS
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte promised to visit Israel this year, the
Netherlands’ Ambassador to Israel Caspar Veldkamp said Monday at an
Israel-Holland business forum in Tel Aviv’s Azrieli Towers.
private sector wants to connect to Israel,” Veldkamp said before listing off a
litany of statistics on the close ties between the two countries. Despite the
economic slowdown in Europe, he said, bilateral trade has steadily
Exports from the Netherlands to Israel totaled $2.48 billion,
making it the third largest export market in Europe, behind Germany and Italy,
while Israel exported $2.3b. back, making it Israel’s second largest import
destination in Europe, next to the United Kingdom. The two countries, he said,
trade more than Israel and France, and more Israelis reside in the Netherlands
than in Italy and Spain combined.
Entering the room on a Dutch-designed
wooden bicycle being marketed in Israel, the ambassador proclaimed: “From wooden
bicycles to nano-satellites, there’s a lot going on, and an abundance of
opportunities for business between Israel and the Netherlands.”
itself as the “gateway to Europe,” the Netherlands boasts its strategic location
between the United Kingdom, Germany and France, housing Europe’s largest port
(Rotterdam), and being situated within 500 kilometers of 170 million customers.
Not only are the two small countries very innovative, Veldkamp said, but they
know how to talk to one another.
“We’re a ‘tachles’ people.
helps! We’re not afraid of each other,” he told The Jerusalem Post, using the
Israeli slang for “the bottom line.”
Though the main cooperation between
the Netherlands and Israel has been in fields such as agriculture and clean tech
(the ambassador says 90 percent of Dutch green houses are fitted with sprinklers
from an Israeli company), one of the key areas in which the Netherlands is
becoming increasingly useful to Israel is in natural gas.
“We have the
highest level of expertise in making a model of a well, and with it predicting
what’s in there and what can be taken out,” said Gert-Jan Heerens of Dutch
consultancy TNO, which is a third owned by the Dutch government.
brought 80 years of experience in the area to the table,” said Shai Spetgang, an
executive at IsraNeft, a young Israeli energy company that became TNO’s first
client in Israel in September. “Their expertise helps us check where we are, and
where we want to move forward.”
With the Bank of Israel estimating that
Israel’s newfound natural gas will grow GDP in 2013 by about 1%, the business
ties seem set to grow increasingly important.