DNBN Interviews Mr. Joop Wijn (ABN Amro)
Why is Norway important for the Netherlands?
Norway is one of the largest exporters of oil and gas in the world. A large part, around 80% of the Norwegian export has its final destination in Europe. And, as so often, these exports reach their final destination through the Netherlands. Rotterdam is by that token the largest port of Norway. Norway has a large trade surplus with the Netherlands. At the same time, the Netherlands has a lot to offer to Norway: shipbuilding, offshore technology, excellent knowledge of infrastructure, a world class service industry, and that in a virtual neighbouring country. Perhaps even more importantly, the Dutch and Norwegians get along very well. In many respects, the Dutch are the Southernmost Scandinavians!
Why did ABN Amro open an office in Norway?
ABN AMRO’s strategy is to be a mirror of the Dutch open economy. That means that internationally the bank is active in the countries surrounding us and as well in the key logistical and financial centers of the world. Moreover one of the international focus areas is Energy, Commodities and Transportation. As Norway is an important country for the Netherlands and a key location in the shipping and energy business it perfectly fits this strategy. One of the predecessors of ABN AMRO established the office in Norway in 1993. Oslo was chosen since it is the main financial, commercial and economic city of Norway and the centre of its oil and gas and shipping activities. The company is organized as a Branch under ABN AMRO Bank N.V. There are several business lines present under Corporate & Merchant Banking, being Energy, Transportation (part of ECT) and Markets. The team consists of fifteen dedicated and experiences professionals with a background from ship owners, ship broking and investment banking. The office services to about sixty large clients mainly related to Scandinavia. Our total commitments to Norwegian clients are about USD 3 billion.
What kind of opportunities do Dutch companies have in Norway?
A lot of investment will be going into the offshore oil and gas industry. Estimates at present are that 20 billion euro per annum will be invested. The technological skills of the Dutch can play a major role. Furthermore, the Norwegian economic expansion will require a growing investment in logistics, both in hardware and in knowledge.
What kind of opportunities do Norwegian companies have in the Netherlands?
The Netherlands is near and it has an excellent investment climate. It has a fantastic logistical network throughout the world and especially in Europe. A market of 17 million customers alone in the Netherlands and a hinterland of more than 80 million Germans make it a great base for operations.
What can the Netherlands learn from Norway?
The Netherlands has learned the hard way that making use of oil and gas revenues should be done with care. The Norwegian solution for this problem has been an excellent one. Norway has a good climate for doing business, provided that one comes well-prepared. And enjoying the outdoor life, well on that point the Norwegians are the real experts!
What can Norway learn from the Netherlands?
The Dutch are predominantly traders. Their best economic potential lies in their know how in logistics, trade, the service industry and technology. And of course speed skating…
What do you see as the added value of the Dutch Norwegian Business Network?
The chance to meet and to build upon the experiences and networks of others can surely enhance business opportunities.
Norway isn’t member of the EU (the currency of Norway is Krone – NOK). What’s the effect of this on the cooperation between the Netherlands and Norway?
Norway is a member of the European Economic Area, which means that legislation with regard to the European market – with an exception to agriculture – is applicable in Norway. At the same time it is easier to do business for countries that share the same currency. Also being not part of the EU means that Norway is able to protect certain domestic produced products. For the Netherlands being a large agriculture producer this has certainly some disadvantages.
Did you ever enjoy holiday in Norway, like so many Dutchmen?
I have visited Norway only for business so a holiday in Norway is still on my list.
Johann Olav Koss or Sven Kramer?
I am an enthusiastic skater and a Dutchman so I clearly have to go for Sven Kramer, who I also met a few times myself. Although for now he is (still) behind Olav Koss measured by Olympic medals
Mr. Joop Wijn, Member of Board of Directors of ABN AMRO Bank N.V, Former Director of Rabobank and Former Minister of Economic Affairs
DNBN is very thankful for having the opportunity to interview Mr. Joop Wijn.
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