Dutch entrepreneurs, Rotterdam port worried about Russian invasion of Ukraine
The Port of Rotterdam Authority and employers' organizations VNO-NCW and MKB-Nederland are very concerned about the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Developments around Ukraine could have a major impact on trade flows and the energy market, they warn.
"I woke up with a very uncomfortable feeling," said Port Authority CEO Allard Castelein when explaining the annual figures of the port of Rotterdam, the largest port in Europe. The port of Rotterdam handles approximately 62 million tons of goods related to Russia every year. That amounts to almost 15 percent of the total and is good for a value of roughly 30 billion euros. These mainly concern coal, crude oil, and liquefied natural gas (LNG). But the country also exports steel, nickel, and aluminum to other parts of the world via the port of Rotterdam.
Castelein said that a further escalation of the conflict could have major consequences. For example, Moscow could turn off the gas tap to Europe in response to sanctions. Castelein warned that in the event of an acute crisis, Rotterdam, as an essential energy port, will be hit, and factories in the port area may have to shut down because of a shortage of gas. "In a conflict situation, energy is always extremely important."
According to Castelein, there is not enough LNG available elsewhere in the world to compensate for a Russian stop towards Europe. The infrastructure in the port of Rotterdam is also insufficient to process all that LNG. "Acute disruptions always cause a problem. The whole society is then affected. If it really escalates, it will hurt. It is not something that will pass us by," said Castelein. It is difficult to predict what the exact consequences of the conflict will be, he said.
In a joint statement, the VNO-NCW and MKB-Nederland spoke of a "gross violation" of Ukraine's sovereignty by Russia that puts security across Europe at risk. "We are closely monitoring the situation and are calling on Dutch companies and employees active in the region to get to safety as soon as possible," they said.
The European Union is expected to impose additional sanctions against Russia later on Thursday. That package will probably be much harsher than the sanctions announced two days ago, the organizations said. VNO-NCW and MKB-Nederland emphasized that companies are never excited for sanctions. But now that the international situation has deteriorated to such an extent, it is up to the business community to comply with sanctions packages set by politics. The organizations called on everyone to do so.
The organizations also warned against counter-actions by Russia. These could cause complications at the border or affect trade. Entrepreneurs also worry about cyberattacks. VNO-NCW and MKB-Nederland will update entrepreneurs on Friday about the current state of affairs.
Reporting by ANP.