Netherlands And Flanders Unite

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The common interest for the Netherlands and Flanders to promote itself as an economic cluster is greater than the competition between, for example, the ports of Antwerp and Rotterdam. That was the main message of Prime Minister Mark Rutte and his Flemish counterpart Kris Peeters at the start of their three-day trade mission in Houston, Texas.

Peeters mentioned during his speech about a ‘historic moment’. “It's the first time in the long history between Flanders and the Netherlands that there is a joint mission. That there are over ninety companies participating, is impressive.”

“If you put your finger on the map, you can’t distinguish Flanders and the Netherlands no more,” said Rutte. He described the region as small, but powerful, ‘with combined strengths in clusters as oil and gas, logistics, smart grids and ports’. According Rutte the joint trade mission is a logical choice. “We are neighbors and share language, history, culture and our economic infrastructure.” In 2011 he already spoke with Flemish Minister-President Kris Peeters about that the Netherlands and Flanders were going to present itself as one region.

The Flemish Minister for Mobility and Public Works, Hilde Crevits, who is also part of the mission together with her Dutch colleague Melanie Schultz van Haegen (Infrastructure and Environment), said: “It is true that we are sometimes competitors but competition is healthy. We are here, not as competitors,  but to promote our common assets.”

“In booming Texas much money can be earned by Dutch businesses. The mission will visit places which have to do with ports, oil, gas, chemicals or infrastructure. In these areas, there are still plenty of opportunities,” says Schultz.

“Texas is booming,” continued Schultz. “Between 2010 and 2011 trade between Houston and the Netherlands increased by more than 60 percent. Netherlands has become the fifth largest investor in Texas.”

The trade mission will last until Tuesday.