THE BLOOM MAY WILT
THE NETHERLANDS, LONG FAMOUS FOR ITS TULIPS AND FLOWER TRADE, COULD BE HIT HARD BY BREXIT
Every day from dawn, a fleet of forklift trucks carries crates of roses, tulips, chrysanthemums and 22,000 other flower varieties through the world’s biggest flower market.
Yme Pasma, chief operating officer for Royal Floraholland, keeps a watchful eye as workers sort stems arriving from all over the world before sending them off to destinations across Europe.
But this well-oiled operation, where robotic efficiency meets a riot of colour and fragrance, is facing a challenge that could make the hardiest bloom wilt: Brexit.
“We are preparing for all kind of disturbances along the way,” Pasma said at the huge warehouse in Aalsmeer, near Amsterdam. “The worst is a hard Brexit and we are preparing for that as well.”
The Netherlands has long been famous for tulips, and flowers remain a vital part of the Dutch economy, with €7 billion (Dhs29b) a year in sales.
Britain is the third largest market for the Netherlands’ flower export business, after Germany and France, accounting for €850 million (Dhs3.5b).
As it is now, flowers are flown in from around the world before being sent seamlessly to Britain or other parts of the European Union’s single market.
However, the political chaos around Britain’s impending exit from the EU on March 29, 2019 has left businesses unsure about what kind of trade arrangements — if any — will follow.
Businesses across the continent have been worrying about this since Britain voted to leave in 2016, but nowhere is the problem as pertinent as in a business where only the freshest produce will do.
A virtual Wall Street for flowers a few miles from Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport, Royal Floraholland acts as both auction house and distribution centre, with
A worker walks through flowers in the Royal Floraholland Aalsmeer.