Dutch boatbuilding and equipment supply has quite rightly earned a strong international reputation, thanks to its innovative, high quality work and reliable service. But like the rest of the world, the Netherlands is still tackling the aftermath of the 2008 economic crisis. Its domestic industries and markets have all been hit hard, but there is now a clear sense that the Dutch economy is slowly but surely coming out of the protracted recession it suffered from 2012 to 2014.
It turned a corner at the end of 2014 when economic growth once again became positive and the European Commission now expects Dutch economic growth to be 1.4% in 2015 and 1.7% in 2016. The OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development), meanwhile, has an even more optimistic view of the Dutch economy. It believes economic growth will be 2% in 2015, increasing to 2.2% in 2016.
The recovery is being driven mainly by improved domestic demand, thanks to real wage growth and increasing consumer confidence.
However, Dutch house prices are still 20% lower than their 2008 peak and 40% of households with mortgage debt now have negative equity. Small and medium-sized enterprises, which play a crucial role in the Dutch economy, continue to be hard hit by the crisis, especially as Dutch banks have now tightened their credit conditions.
Importantly, though, for the Dutch marine sector, product exports are expected to continue increasing steadily, boosted by the low value of the euro.
The main negative factors impacting the Dutch boatbuilding sector are the continuing domestic economic downturn and, significantly, the Russian economic crisis caused by the depreciation of the rouble, the fall of Russian stock markets and oil prices, and with the international sanctions imposed after Russia annexed Crimea and sent its military forces into Ukraine. The ongoing tensions over Syria will only intensify matters further.
Nevertheless, most Dutch production builders recognise the importance of investing in their export potential. Contest Yachts, for example, a yard that builds cruising sailing yachts from 12m-21m (42ft-72ft), has renewed its focus on the US market, where it once sold 300 of its iconic Contest 25s in the 1960s and 1970s.
Note: This is an excerpt of the latest report on the leisure marine market in the Netherlands that appeared in the November issue of IBI magazine. IBI Plus subscribers can download the full report from IBI Plus website.