Export Council of Australia on the Netherlands: Gateway to Europe
Stability is an increasing concern for foreign investors, and the Netherlands is politically stable
Strategically located between Europe’s two biggest continental economies, and sitting across the English Channel from the United Kingdom (UK), the Netherlands has long been the gateway to the European market. The UK has traditionally played this role for Australian companies with European interests, though signs pointing toward a “hard” rather than “soft” Brexit – meaning a departure from the European Union’s (EU) single market – mean Australian companies may need to find an alternative one.
The Netherlands is perfectly placed to take up this mantle. “Many investors that come to the Netherlands, come for the European market,” says Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency (NFIA)’s Commissioner Mr. Jeroen Nijland. He notes several reasons for this, including both hard factors – like the Netherland’s excellent infrastructure physically and digitally linking it with the rest of the continent – and soft factors, like the country’s multilingual workforce and business-oriented approach to both commerce and government. “If you add it all up, geographical position, infrastructure like airports and seaports, the attitudes of business and government – I think this is a convincing list for many investors,” Mr. Nijland says. Digging deeper uncovers further inducements for Australian businesses eyeing a European gateway, such as a competitive fiscal climate and the tech-savvy nature of the Dutch people.
Connected, stable and multilingual
The Netherlands is the most connected economy in the world, according to global logistics firm DHL’s annual rankings. Its central location, bordering Germany and Belgium, and a stone’s throw from the UK and France, places nearly 170 million customers in the European market within a 500km radius of the country. Stability is an increasing concern for foreign investors, and the Netherlands is politically stable. “We always end up with coalition governments,” Mr. Nijland points out. “That means whatever happens at the ballot boxes, policy swings are always quite moderate, lending a certain predictability to Dutch politics.”
“Investors take a long-term horizon view in their decision making”, he rightly notes. “Go-to-market decisions involve millions or billions of dollars, and for that matter, predictability is very important.” Adding to this attractive geography and stable politics, the well-educated, multilingual and pragmatic Dutch workforce is the icing on the cake. Around 90% of Dutch are English-speaking, besting all their continental European counterparts and contributing to the ease of doing business and communication in the country.
Want to read more? Find the Netherlands feature in Export Council of Australia’s International Business Today here.
20 April 2017