By: Natalie Gochnour
Originally published in the Deseret News
This week I am traveling with Gov. Gary Herbert in Western Europe with a delegation of 40 business and community leaders. We are here to promote trade and tourism between Utah and five countries in Europe. The catalyst for the visit is Delta Air Lines’ new nonstop flight from Salt Lake City to Amsterdam. This direct flight provides an opportunity to capitalize on Utah’s economic ties to Western Europe.
I asked Alan Ross, the head of the U.S. Commercial Service in the Netherlands, why the non-stop flight was important. He didn’t hesitate in his response. He said, “The better the connection, the better the trade.” He characterized the direct flight as a starting point for increased economic growth in both countries. “In international trade, transportation is everything,” he said. “You have to make connections, and this flight is the place to start.” Like Chicago, New York, Los Angeles and San Diego, which all have direct flights from Amsterdam, he said this new flight provides a basis to increase connectivity between valuable economic partners.
The Utah-Netherlands connection is multi-faceted. At an evening reception launching the trade mission, representatives from the U.S. Embassy and the head of the U.S. Commercial Service in the Netherlands made a compelling case for increased economic partnership. They described the Netherlands as “the smallest economic giant in the world economy.” They shared several stats. The Dutch economy is the 17th largest in the world and fifth largest in the European Union. They operate the largest port in Europe and are the world’s second largest exporter of agricultural products (U.S. ranks first). Seven thousand U.S. companies have a Dutch distribution network, and 1,600 U.S. companies have a base of operations in the Netherlands. Their English proficiency is very high, making U.S. and Netherland trade convenient.
This connection continues at the state level. U.S. Commercial Services reports Netherlands-U.S. trade accounts for 3,600 Utah jobs and $164.6 million in Utah exports. Four Dutch companies have a base of operation in Utah, including ASML (chip manufacturing), DSM (industrial manufacturing), Corbion (biobased products company) and Reed Elsevier (fraud detection and global business strategy). Utah’s language proficiency has been very evident as the governor’s former chief of staff, Derek Miller, director of the Hinckley Institute at the Uni