Skip to main content

Rotterdam and Houston Strengthen Economic Relationship During Digital Trade Forum  

Published Nov 19, 2020 by A.J. Mistretta


The Maas with the Kralingse Plas in Rotterdam, Guido Pijper

Officials in Houston and the European city of Rotterdam held a digital trade forum this week to strengthen economic ties between the two cities. 

Rotterdam and Houston share a number of characteristics as energy hubs and port cities. The forum that took place November 16-18 focused around Energy 2.0 and the application of hydrogen, carbon capture and digital tech in the energy sector. 

Rotterdam Partners, the economic development organization for the Dutch city, and the Greater Houston Partnership signed a memorandum of understanding on November 16 aimed at strengthening the economic relationship between the two regions. The Netherlands is currently Houston’s fifth largest international trading partner, averaging $9 billion in goods and services traded annually over the last decade. 

“As the Energy Capital of the World, Houston is uniquely positioned to lead the transition to a cleaner, more efficient, and more sustainable lower carbon world,” said Bob Harvey, President and CEO of the Greater Houston Partnership. “The region is committed to working with our global partners on tackling this challenge head on and identifying solutions for the future. As a top investor to this region and an established leader in Energy 2.0 activity, the Netherlands is a natural partner for Houston.”

Wilbert Lek, Director of Rotterdam Partners, said the collaboration offers Dutch and American companies the opportunity to expand networks and explore new business markets. “The many shared similarities between Rotterdam and Houston make the exchange of knowledge very important,” he said. 

A longtime hub for the oil and gas industry, Houston is now focused on helping lead the global energy transition to a more sustainable, lower carbon future. This includes developing a robust Energy 2.0 ecosystem that includes renewable energy production and new energy tech. Energy transition is likewise a top priority in Rotterdam. During this digital trade forum, participants learned more about business opportunities in the energy transition in both Texas and the Netherlands, with a specific focus on hydrogen, carbon capture and digital tech. Dutch and American companies also had the chance to network with relevant discussion partners during pre-arranged matchmaking sessions.

Officials from both Houston and Rotterdam cited the economic similiarities between the two cities as an opportunity for more focused collaboration and exchange of knowledge. Houston offers Dutch companies a prime position for doing business in the U.S. and across the Americas. 

More than 30 Houston firms operate 47 subsidiary locations in the Netherlands, including BMC Software, Kinder Morgan, Paradigm and Superior Energy. Nearly 40 Dutch firms operate 96 subsidiaries in the Houston area, including Brunel International, LyondellBasell and Stork.

Learn more about international business in Houston and see the latest Global Houston report that includes international trading relationships. 

Related News

Digital Technology

Texas Led Nation in Economic Development Wins in 2020, According to Site Selection

Texas continues to dominate the nation when it comes to total economic development project wins, despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Lone Star State took the top spot for the ninth year in a row on Site Selection Magazine’s list of best performing states for economic development by total number of projects. That’s earned Texas the publication’s Governor’s Cup award once again.  Texas logged 781 projects in 2020, down from 859 qualifying projects the year before but still more than any other state as the U.S. grappled with the effects of the pandemic.  Ohio took the top spot on Site Selection’s list of most projects per capita.  According to Site Selection: “Both Ohio and Texas have diverse economies, as do the other high-ranking states, so that was a factor in their capital investment success. All states benefited from a strong national economy heading into 2020 — until COVID-19 slammed the brakes on their momentum. Economic development agendas turned to business recovery and assistance, and suddenly governors were seen leading daily pandemic updates and determining to what extent they would remain open for business.”  Texas Governor Greg Abbott told the magazine that all metrics are now moving in the right direction in terms of the state’s economic recovery. The Governor pointed to the drop in new cases and hospitalizations as well as other positive indicators. “We undertook a number of measures that were focused on trying to maximize businesses being allowed to remain open and operate safely and to minimize any type of shutdown,” Abbott told Site Selection, “and find the right blend of that and maximum public safety. We focused on keeping businesses open as much as possible and providing them the guidance and the tools, meaning we were able to surge testing supplies through chambers of commerce to help businesses be able to test employees, for example.”  Abbott said businesses use challenging periods like this one as an opportunity to chart their paths forward. “That’s something we saw from the phone calls we got during the course of the pandemic this past year — businesses wanting to either come to Texas or grow in Texas and using this time as an opportunity to do those expansions. What they see in Texas is extremely promising, and I believe our economy will be booming the latter part of this year and next year.” Houston specifically had a strong year in economic development, as well. In November, Hewlett Packard Enterprise announced plans to move its headquarters from California to North Harris County, giving the region yet another Fortune 500 company. A month later, Axiom Space said it would build the world's first commercial space station at the Houston Spaceport at Ellington Airport. That project is expected to bring 1,000 jobs to the area. Greentown Labs, Amazon and Google Inc. all announced projects earlier in the year. View other significant economic development projects in this region here.    Learn more about Site Selection's Governor's Cup lists and the publication's methodology and discover why companies across the country and around the world are considering Houston. 
Read More

The Reshoring Movement and its Impact on U.S. Manufacturing

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed many vulnerabilities for American business, from the critical importance of remote connectivity to the risks of open office design. But for manufacturers and others dependent on the global supply chain, the pandemic brought their exposure into stark focus when parts of the chain broke down last spring. Companies dependent on materials and supplies from China and other nations were left waiting weeks or more for those products in many cases.  Acknowledging the risk, a number of U.S. companies are looking to “reshore” parts of their own operations and seek out domestic producers for critical supplies. These businesses hope to strengthen their supply chain by reducing its length.  Experts came together to discuss the reshoring phenomenon and the advantages to businesses looking to supply the federal government in a special Business Beyond Borders presentation this week hosted by the Partnership. The conversation resumes with a Part 2 on Reshoring on March 2. Register here. Dr. Sanju Patro, Director of TMAC Gulf Coast and Harry Moser, President of Reshoring Initiative, talked about the growing movement toward domestic production.  The Buy American Act requires that the federal government buy products made in the U.S. from materials mostly supplied domestically. But loopholes and ambiguity surrounding the law often make it easy to circumvent. Patro said a recent executive order from the Biden Administration seeks to close those loopholes and directs federal agencies to review their procurement process. That’s creating renewed incentive for American companies to source and manufacture domestically, which could boost employment.  “As more and more U.S. companies work to reshore manufacturing, there will be greater demand for skilled labor,” Patro said.  Moser said the pandemic has brought to light many of the hidden costs of outsourcing. While many companies source and manufacture overseas, they aren’t factoring in the “total cost of ownership,” or the additional costs tied to the supply chain.  Over the last 20 years, the value of U.S. manufacturing has plateaued due in large part to offshoring. “We are consuming more goods than ever before, but we simply aren’t producing them anymore,” said Moser.  Moser offered an example many have become familiar with during the pandemic. Disposable masks are largely manufactured overseas and at the beginning of the pandemic, these were in short supply due to the breakdown in the supply chain. According to Moser, if mask making had been done domestically it would have created 180,000 additional manufacturing jobs.  To watch the full program Business Beyond Borders: COVID-19 Supply Chain Wake-Up Calls for Reshoring Now, Partnership members can log into the membership portal via the link at the top right of the page. 
Read More

Related Events

International Business

WBA Members: Virtual Coffee Conversations & Networking

The Women’s Business Alliance will be hosting a Members-Only Virtual Coffee Conversations and Networking event on Tuesday, April 20th.  Join us online to meet this year’s new WBA members!  This is an opportunity to…

Learn More
Learn More
Executive Partners