Dutch yacht builders find crowded road to Rio
“We mean business!” Prince Willem Alexander, heir to the Dutch throne, told Brazilian officials in November. He led the largest-ever Dutch trade mission ‑ comprising the brass of 157 companies _ to the world’s 6th largest economy. Brazil has 8,000 kms of Atlantic coastline, dotted with tropical islands and offers Dutch yacht makers a large and increasingly wealthy market. But their road to Rio is crowded with foreign rivals.
The Brazilian boat-builders association says the country’s nautical sector posted a 37% jump in sales in 2012, reaching $800 million. Key factors: feeble demand in North America and Europe and rising Brazilian incomes. Recent years have seen an influx of foreign manufacturers: Italy’s Ferretti Group, Azimut and Sessa Marine, France’s Beneteau and America’s Brunswick. Dutch yacht builders have largely shunned Brazil to date. That leaves a painful alternative: Brazil slaps a prohibitive tax (35%) on boat imports. Robert Vreugdenhil, a Dutch, Brazil-based yacht broker, calls Brazil a bonanza. Yacht sales have surged by 40% in Brazil since 2008. There are now 165,000 millionaires in Brazil. The ranks of its highest income earners rose by 54% to 22 million between 2003 and 2012. By 2014, they will number 31 million, Vreugdenhil in the October issue of the trade magazine Jachtbouw Nederland..“Research shows the Netherlands trailing other EU nations when it comes to exploiting new markets in Brazil. This year alone, the value of yachts in Brazilian waters rose in value by $370 million.”