Rotterdam, Europe’s most attractive and competitive maritime city
Rotterdam has been announced as the European frontrunner in the 2022 edition of the ‘Leading Maritime Cities of the World’ report just launched by DNV and Menon Economics. It’s a well-deserved recognition, and a reason for the port city and surrounding business regions to celebrate.
But what’s the background and relevance of this report for the maritime capital of Europe? Co-author Benjamin Dineshkar, Head of Maritime Advisory, Middle East, DNV and Jeroen van der Veer, Area Business Development Manager, Netherlands, DNV, took the time to elaborate and explain what Rotterdam needs to do to maintain its position.
“Growing cities have well-organized cluster organizations and trade associations that share perceptions and pursue a cooperative approach to solve challenges and enhance competitiveness.”Benjamin Dineshkar, Head of Maritime Advisory, Middle East, DNV
Rotterdam has climbed the global rankings consistently since 2015. The survey has been performed and published five times since its first edition exactly 10 years ago. It provides valuable insights into which global maritime cities offer the best infrastructure, technology, finance, and world-class talent, that help maritime communities to connect and prosper.
Benjamin Dineshkar explains the background: “The idea for an independent and un-commissioned global benchmark of top maritime cities arose, after we were asked by several individual maritime regions to provide an insight into how they performed compared to other regions.”
Each competing city is benchmarked on five pillars: shipping centers, maritime finance and law, maritime technology, ports and logistics, attractiveness and competitiveness. Each of these have both objective and subjective indicators. Dineshkar: “Even though Rotterdam didn’t come out top on any single pillar, the city scored high on most pillars, especially in the area of ports and logistics as well as attractiveness and competitiveness. This produced a well-deserved global second ranking, and the top European position.”
The report focusses on competitiveness and the underlying reasons as to why companies choose to move to a particular region. It provides insights for (regional) policy makers to identify focus areas that need attention to improve their maritime economies. In the last two decades, Asian centers have been rapidly growing in strength. As Dineshkar explains: “This has to do with Asian governments’ strong maritime industries involvement and industry policies.”
“Having a holistic view is significant for accelerating growth. Not surprisingly this is something that is organized well in Rotterdam.”Jeroen van der Veer, Area Business Development Manager, Netherlands, DNV
Competitive advantage through cooperation
In Europe, London and Rotterdam have been growing consistently, with Rotterdam outperforming London slightly. According to Dineshkar this is due to the level of cooperation between governments and the industry. He believes this to be one of the major differentiators for competitiveness. “Growing cities,” he notes, “have well-organized cluster organizations and trade associations that share perceptions and pursue a cooperative approach to solve challenges and enhance competitiveness.”
Adds Jeroen van der Veer: “It’s becoming increasingly important to work together to tackle the challenges of the future. This goes for public-private cooperation as well as for cooperation between industry players themselves.” Dineshkar continues: “In European cities, and Rotterdam in particular, you can see this common approach and strong public-private cooperation.”
This suggests that collaborations such as the Rotterdam Maritime Board (in which all ranks of the maritime industry are represented and together with regional administrations are looking at the main transition challenges) provide a competitive advantage for maritime companies operating out of Rotterdam.
Jeroen van der Veer explains: “Having a holistic view is significant for accelerating growth. Not surprisingly this is something that is organized well in Rotterdam. Take the Rotterdam Maritime Services Community (of which DNV Netherlands is a member) for example. I believe these kinds of associations can play a substantial role in facilitating such cooperation.”
Favorable conditions for maritime business
Over the years Rotterdam has achieved a robust performance with growth in the port sector, tonnage under the Dutch flag and its banking and shipping portfolio. This creates favorable conditions for maritime business in the Rotterdam region, resulting in recognition as Europe’s maritime capital.
Decarbonization and improved sustainability will be the biggest trends for the maritime industry in the near future. Cities that manage to take the lead in green transformation will also create a competitive advantage for their maritime economies. Dineshkar believes this is something for policy makers to keep in mind. Suggesting that Rotterdam should maintain its focus in these areas to secure its position towards the future.
Meanwhile its track record and current developments suggest Rotterdam holds the right cards to continue as the most competitive and attractive European city for maritime business.