The US Ambassador to the Netherlands kicked off the 2018 METSTRADE Show today with a ribbon-cutting ceremony in the USA Pavilion

The US Ambassador to the Netherlands, Peter Hoekstra, kicked off the 2018 METSTRADE Show with a ribbon-cutting ceremony in the USA Pavilion and a meeting with exhibitors, State delegations and officials of the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA).

Hoekstra, a former nine-term Congressman from Michigan, had marine industry constituents in his district, but was still surprised to learn that outdoor recreation accounts for about 2% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and says NMMA has done a good job in getting the word out to political leaders that the boating industry needs to be taken seriously.

“It looks like the industry is in a place that their political leaders are not,” Hoekstra told IBI in an interview, explaining, “which is to say ‘resolve this issue and move forward, it’s good for all of us.’”

Hoekstra said that even before the current trade war, EU countries already had tariff and other non-tariff trade barriers in place that hindered the US marine industry.

“While they don’t welcome the current tariff situation, they recognise that they were facing an uphill climb to sell into Europe, so, I think they appreciate the Trump Administration’s efforts to try and level the playing field,” the Ambassador said.

NMMA president Thom Dammrich told IBI that the meeting produced no surprises, but some encouraging news.

“He believes negotiations will get underway in earnest in early 2019 and that we could have a trade agreement by June,” Dammrich shared, adding: “It would be nice if they got rid of the tariff while doing those negotiations, but we’ll see.”