Port St. Maarten Management Meets with Dutch Investment Agency NIA Regarding EU Funding



PORT ST. MAARTEN – Management of Port St. Maarten recently met with a representative from the Netherlands Investment Agency (NIA) which ensures optimum compliance of projects with the requirements eligible for financing opportunities offered by the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI).

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Port St. Maarten, Mark Mingo, met with the Director of the NIA Peter Martens, who was on a working visit to Sint Maarten in search of opportunities that could qualify for funding from the EFSI.

“It was a pleasure to have met with Mr. Martens from the NIA.  I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Dutch Representative Chris Johnson for his coordination of this meeting.  We provided a lot of information with respect to investments made in the past and what type of investments need to be made in the near future in order to keep the port and the destination overall competitive in cruise tourism.  Caribbean destinations are facing a number of challenges such as private cruise port islands and the opening up of Cuba.

“The EFSI offers more competitive commercial loans within the European Union or associated countries, to support projects in areas such as smart cities, circular economy, energy transition and support for corporate finance. Infrastructure and logistical investments falls within the scope of the aforementioned, and the port has already been making investments in a Global Logistics System (GLS) software platform that streamlines crane operations making it more efficient and effective to the benefit of customers as well as Portbase Port Community Systems.

“Port St. Maarten has taken a strategic approach in order to secure more business, and we are working diligently on this by meeting and having discussions with cruise line executives as part of our on-going marketing efforts.  We need to look at building on our strengths in order to continue to grow in the foreseeable future, as our competitors in the region are securing funding to expand their cruise infrastructure.

“Cruise lines across the board are making considerable investments in constructing Future Larger Vessels (FLV).  The next generation ships are the largest ships ever to be built which will be larger and hold more passengers than those currently serving the cruise sector.

“Port St. Maarten must be ready to accommodate the next-generation cruise ships that are currently under construction or will be built in the foreseeable future.  These investments will take time to be made, and therefore it is very important to start from now in order to make those strategic sustainable investments to protect our cruise tourism product and grow our economy,” CEO Mark Mingo said on Sunday.

The two organizations where EFSI funds are drawn from is the EIB Group responsible for the overall implementation consisting of the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Investment Fund (EIF).

The role of the NIA is to set the course and prepare the road for parties approaching the EIB and the EFSI in particular, and to provide information about the objectives and possibilities of the EFSI fund.

The NIA: advises and assists public and private parties in the preparation and development of investment projects; advises and assists government departments and other government bodies in producing an inventory of investments; brings investors and financial parties in the Netherlands together: banks, sectoral banks, the Netherlands Investment Institute (NLII), Regional Development Agencies (ROMs), etc.

The NIA, established by the Dutch Ministers of Finance and Economic Affairs, also undertakes the acquisition of regional, national and cross-border projects with a high probability of success; carries out Quick Scans to determine the viability of projects; encourages the submission of suitable projects; and addresses obstacles in regulations and permits, in consultation with the partner council.

The EFSI is an initiative launched jointly by the EIB Group and the European Commission to help overcome the current investment gap in the European Union by mobilizing private financing for strategic investments.

With EFSI support, the EIB Group will provide funding for economically viable projects where it adds value, including projects with a higher risk profile than ordinary EIB activities.

It will focus on sectors of key importance where the EIB Group has proven expertise and the capacity to deliver a positive impact on the European economy, including: Strategic infrastructure including digital, transport and energy; Education, research, development and innovation; Expansion of renewable energy and resource efficiency; and support for smaller businesses and midcap companies.

PHOTO CUTLINE: L to R: Senior Policy Advisor Robert Jan de Wilde, Head of the Dutch Representation Office in Philipsburg, Chris Johnson, CEO Mark Mingo, and NIA Director Peter Martens, takes a water tour of Great Bay and of the cruise and cargo facilities.