General data the Netherlands

Market overview
The Netherlands provides a strategic location to serve and service markets within the European Union as well as central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

The Netherlands is number six in the world rankings of export and investment nations. The central geographical position of the Netherlands, directly east of England and borders to Germany and Belgium, combined with a good accessibility and excellent infrastructure are only some of the reasons why numerous companies have entered the Netherlands.

In 2003, 328 million tonnes of cargo passed through the port of Rotterdam, while Amsterdam Airport Schiphol handled 1.3 million tonnes of cargo and 40 million passengers.

Area: 41,526 sq km (16,033 sq miles).
700 sq km (1,429 sq miles) waterways, lakes and inland seas.
Population:  

16,3 million inhabitants.
479 inhabitants per sq km.
The Netherlands is one of the most densely populated countries in the world.

Capital:     Amsterdam.
Other three main cities Rotterdam.
The seat of Dutch government The Hague and Utrecht.
Administrative divisions: 12 regions
Administrative languages: 

Dutch.
Most have an excellent command of English and German.

Religions: 1/3 Roman Catholic, 1/3 Protestant and 1/3 other
Currency:  Euro

Economic conditions
The Netherlands has an advanced economy, which combines high income per head with a fairly even income distribution. As exports and imports of goods and services both accounts for well over 60% of nominal GDP, the life-blood of Dutch prosperity is foreign trade. And favourable tax treatment for profits earned by multinationals has boosted the Netherlands’ attraction as a location for foreign direct investment.

In 2003 the economy contracted in real terms for the first time since 1982. GDP fell by 0.7% with both domestic demand and the external sector subtracting from economic growth.  

Key figures on the Dutch economy (% less indicated otherwise)

 

2001

2002

2003

2004* expected

GDP (real growth)

1.3

0.2

0

1ј

Unemployment (% labour force)

3.3

3.9

5Ð…

6Ñ•

Inflation

4.5

3.9

2ј

1ј

Government account (% GDP)

0.1

-1.3

-1.9

-2.6

Goods exports, excluding energy (real growth)

0.9

-2.2

Ð…

5

   Of which produced domestically

-0.8

-0.6

-2ј

2ј

Goods imports (real growth)

1.4

-2.2

1Ñ•

5

 

Geographical breakdown of goods exports (2002)

 

Billions of euros

Share (%)

Average growth 1998-2002 (%)

EU

177

76

6

Eastern Europe

11

4

13

Other Western Europe

10

4

8

North America

12

5

12

Latin America

3

1

4

Asia and Oceania

17

7

7

Africa

4

2

7

World

234

100

7

 

Geographical breakdown of goods imports (2002)

Billions of euros

Share (%)

Average growth 1998-2002 (%)

EU

116

57

4

Eastern Europe

9

4

14

Other Western Europe

8

4

6

North America

19

9

5

Latin America

6

3

10

Asia and Oceania

42

20

11

Africa

5

2

10

World

205

100

6

Sources: Statistics Netherlands, CPB

Market Sectors
The Netherlands is classified as one of the most "wired" countries in the world, a dynamic force in electronic commerce, communications and outsourcing. More than a decade of investment in high-speed Internet, cable and digital communication systems and the rapid adoption of state-of-the-art computer and mobile phone technology has created an ideal base for companies seeking to take advantage of the modern technology.

Compared with most other western countries the Netherlands has a large agricultural sector, with a share of 2.5% of total added value. It is the world market leader for horticultural products and also a major exporter of meat and dairy products.

With a share in total added value of 80.4%, the services sector is comparatively large. In particular it covers commercial services, which account for 55% of total added value. Big players are financial and business services (26.5% of total added value), wholesaling and retailing (12.8%) and transport, storage and communication (7.2%). 

Based on the main home market production, a selection of sectors which companies have opportunities in sub supplying are selected:

  • Wireless Technology
  • Agriculture
  • Food
  • Food Processing
  • Construction
  • Natural Resources Oil & Gas Industry.

Demands
Dutch businesses are very price conscious, so expect one of the first questions to be what the product or service will cost, and what the return on investment will be. The price and quality relationship need to be equal.

Dutch companies expect their suppliers to act as partners. Suppliers need to show a genuine understanding of their client companies and industry sector.  Impressive references are considered to be very important, as businesses want to minimise risk as much as possible.

There has to be complete trust between buyer and supplier. In return the supplier can expect a long-term business relationship, as the partnership model works both ways.

Distribution Channels
In the Netherlands all types of distribution channels are found. For example when to use an agent or to go directly to the retail has to been decided for each business in relation to market sectors, products and services.

Business culture / climate
In the period 2004-2008 EIU (Economic Intelligence Unit) forecasts the Netherlands to become the second most attractive business location in the world and the most attractive in Europe. Its main strength lies in its ability to combine market liberalisation with consensus politics. 

Despite the Netherlands’ top position there are weak points in its business environment, notably moderately high taxation, high labour costs and increasing traffic congestion.

World Bank has compared the Business Environment in The Netherlands by various indicators with that of following other economies indicated as regional average:

Australia

Greece

New Zealand

Austria

Iceland

Norway

Belgium

Ireland

Portugal

Canada

Italy

Spain

Denmark

Japan

Sweden

Finland

Korea, Rep.

Switzerland

France

Luxembourg

United Kingdom

Germany

 

United States

 

 

Netherlands

Regional Average

Economy    

GNI per capita (US$)

23,390

23,149

Population

16,3

41,1

      
Starting a business    

Number of procedures

7

6

Duration in days

11

25

Cost % GNI per capita

13.3

8.1

Min. deposit of capita to obtain business reg. (% GNI per capita)

67.2

47

      
Employment    

Flexibility in Hiring

51

49

Flexibility in Firing

33

28

     

Enforcing commercial contracts

   

Number of procedures

21

18

Duration in days

39

213

Cost (% GNI per capita)

0.5

7.1

      

Closing a Business (resolve insolvencies)

 

 

Actual time in years

2.6

1.8

Actual cost (% of estate)

1

7

Goals of Insolvency Index (high number = efficient insolvency system)

95

77

Source: Worldbank

 

 

 

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