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Amsterdam Connect > City Guide > BusinessBusiness

The Dutch are business people

The Dutch have a highly educated and internationally orientated population. The fact that they often speak foreign languages as well, partially explains why the
Netherlands is seen as an attractive country for foreign companies.  Also the fact that the Dutch are innovative and open-minded contributes to this.

The Dutch people have always been business people. This also shows from the fact that the
Netherlands was ranked fifth, behind Denmark, Finland, Canada and Singapore, in the Global Business Environment Rankings 2006-2010 published in April by the Economist Intelligence Unit. Ireland, Great Britain, Switzerland and the United States follow the Netherlands in the top ten.

The attractiveness of the Netherlands for foreign companies is shown by the presence of important clusters of companies and research institutes in the fields of chemicals, high-tech and innovative materials, food and flowers, life sciences and health, water management and maritime (offshore) engineering, the creative industry and financial services.

Dutch economy
The Netherlands is a prosperous and open economy depending heavily on foreign trade. The Dutch economy is known for her stable industrial relations, moderate inflation, a sizable current account surplus, and it has an important role as a European transportation hub. Industrial activities in the
Netherlands are predominantly in food processing, chemicals, petroleum refining, and electrical machinery. A highly mechanized agricultural sector employs no more than 4% of the Dutch labour force but provides large surpluses for the food-processing industry and for export. The Dutch rank third worldwide in value of agricultural exports, behind the US and France.  The Netherlands were among the first 11 EU countries establishing the euro currency zone on 1 January 1999.

Until halfway into the 1990s, the
Netherlands was considered to be one of Europe’s best performing economies; this was due to the ‘polder model’ which led to enormous growth rates. The key in this laid in controlling labour costs while steadily raising the wages which undermined the competitiveness of foreign neighbouring countries. After 1998 there was a turnabout in the Dutch competitiveness and between 2000 and 2005 the Netherlands’ growth rates actually slipped below the European average. But after five years the consumer confidence rose again. Companies even expect to invest 4% more in 2007 and are more optimistic than they have been since 1985. 

The Netherlands is strategically located on the
North Sea and the Rhine and ever since the first defences against the sea went up some 800 years ago, trade, export and distribution are set in the Dutch genes. The Port of Rotterdam is one of the most important transport centres in the world, and is ranked as the second biggest port in the world, just behind the Port of Singapore. Amsterdam Schiphol Airport also holds an important position in Europe. Because of the geographic location the Port of Rotterdam and Amsterdam Schiphol Airport are seen as the international hubs of Europe.

The infrastructure and logistics services are very well managed by both the ports of Rotterdam and of Amsterdam. But not only here the infrastructure is well managed; the telecom facilities and broadband Internet connections in the Netherlands are considered to be one of the best in the world.  

Export is without any doubt the main engine for economic growth in the Netherlands and accounts for 60% of Dutch GDP. The most important market for Dutch exports is the European Union (78.5% of total exports). The United States comes at a distant second (4.2% of total exports), but is rapidly gaining in importance. In the European Union, Germany is the largest market for Dutch products.

Capital goods dominate the Dutch export package: machines, transport equipment and manufactured goods. But besides the export of goods produced by the national industry, the Netherlands also has a large externally orientated services sector. Important export services are transport, trade, construction, dredging and technical and financial services.

Dutch Government
The Netherlands has been a constitutional monarchy since 1848. The executive power is formed by the Queen and her council of Ministers. The Queen herself enjoys political immunity.
The legislature comprises a democratically elected parliament consisting of two chambers. The representation in these chambers is proportional.

The First Chamber (Eerste Kamer) has 75 members, who are selected indirectly for six year terms by the Provincial councils, the representative bodies for the Dutch provinces. The Second Chamber (Tweede Kamer) is the more powerful body and consists of 150 members, directly elected by the people every four years. The Dutch government is regarded as being stable and the democratic government.

When considering setting up your business in The Netherlands, you are faced with a number of important questions about issues such as rules concerning financial reporting, the corporate tax climate, the incentives climate, expatriate tax, the culture and much more.


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