Dutch Ambassador and Consul General to visit Alaska to discuss trade, agriculture, climate

A diplomatic delegation from the Netherlands will visit Alaska, August 10-12. André Haspels, Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in the United States, and Dirk Janssen, Consul General of the Netherlands in San Francisco, will connect with business and government officials to strengthen the ties between the Netherlands and Alaska.

This visit, marks the first trip to the state for Ambassador Haspels and Consul General Janssen.  “Alaska is a state rich in resources and at the forefront of energy production, but also feels the impact of climate change. The Netherlands has an excellent track record in agriculture, energy and water management,” said Ambassador Haspels. “I’m looking forward to getting to know the Last Frontier state and to connect with its people and businesses.”

“Trade between Alaska and the Netherlands is fairly limited, but growing,” said Consul General Janssen, whose office in San Francisco covers all 13 most-western states, including Alaska. “Alaska exports $130 million in goods and services to the Netherlands, and 99 percent of that is seafood. Alaska also imports $5.5 million in goods and services from the Netherlands, 95 percent of that consists of  computers and other electrical equipment. I see major opportunities to do more business together.”

During their visit, the diplomats will meet local business leaders and government officials, such as Governor Dunleavy and Anchorage Mayor Bronson. They will meet with representatives from the World Trade Center and visit Anchorage International Airport, an important logistics hub. Agriculture is high on their agenda, as they will visit Bell’s Nursery, the largest greenhouse operator in Anchorage, and they will travel to Palmer to meet with the Director of Agriculture of the State of Alaska. There they will also meet local farmers, including the largest potato farm in Alaska, founded by Bert and Suus Vanderweele, who are of Dutch descent.

The Dutch government has maintained a presence in Alaska since 2017, when the Netherlands appointed Irene Post–Green as Honorary Consul. She connects Dutch and Alaskan businesses and has provided consular support to Dutch nationals in Alaska.

Innovative agriculture

One important topic for collaboration is agriculture. Alaska imports 95 percent of its store-bought food, and at tremendous cost. It takes more than a week for fresh produce to reach some outlying villages in the state. Alaska also has some of the highest rates of food insecurity in the nation.

The Netherlands is only twice the size of New Jersey, and can fit into Alaska 41 times. At the same time, it is the second largest exporter of agricultural products, behind only the United States.

The Dutch have found innovative solutions to grow crops efficiently, in greenhouses for example. Ambassador Haspels stated, “Growing food in the Netherlands doesn’t need a lot of water, space, or even the sun. Dutch farmers are experts in sustainable food production by controlling the growing environment. This expertise could be very interesting for Alaska.

Energy

Just like Alaska, the Netherlands produces and exports energy. By 2050, the Netherlands wants to be nearly emission free. The Netherlands is experimenting with energy from waves, algae and biomass. To secure a resilient energy grid, The Netherlands is looking into smart and micro-grids, which are  more common in Alaska. The Dutch are initiating partnerships to share experiences and exchange expertise.

More traditionally, the Netherlands is an exporter of natural gas and a source of advanced gas technology. As Europe’s leading gas broker and a strategic gas hub, some of the world’s leading companies and facilities in the field of soil research are from the Netherlands. Fugro, for instance, has an office in Alaska.

Water management

Sea-level rise and climate change are causing problems in both the Netherlands and Alaska. Storms become bigger and cause more damage. Dutch research institute Deltares works together with the United States Geological Survey on Alaska shore research. Together, they created models to map the effects of climate change on the Arctic Coast. It’s an example of how the Netherlands and Alaska work together.

 

For more details, please contact Mr. Sietze Vermeulen, Consulate General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in San Francisco: sietze.vermeulen@minbuza.nl 415 866 5572