The Netherlands is one of the top five most competitive economies in the world. There are few countries in the world where the ecosystem is as attractive to entrepreneurs as in the Netherlands. It is an open, progressive society where creativity and innovation are stimulated. In the euro zone, the Netherlands is regularly one of the best-performing countries. What are the opportunities and pitfalls to be aware of when doing business in the Netherlands?

The Netherlands has a very diverse population. One in five people in Dutch society has a parent who was born abroad. 90% of Dutch people speak English, and many Dutch people are multilingual.

Located between Germany and the North Sea, with a large airport and seaport, good roads to the rest of Europe and a favourable trading climate, the Netherlands is an attractive country for organisations that want to do business within countries in the European Union. International trade is an important factor in the Dutch economy (transit of products).
From the road network to telecommunications, the infrastructure in many areas is of high quality. In terms of digital connectivity, the country has the highest broadband speeds in Europe. In this way, consumers and entrepreneurs can reap the benefits of (innovative) digital services. The Netherlands has an internet penetration rate of more than 95%.
  • Favourable business environment
  • Main commercial hub in Europe
  • One of the largest exporters of crude oil in the world and the second largest producer and exporter of natural gas in Europe
  • High current account surplus
  • Healthy public finances
  • Healthy banking sector
  • High private debt, with corporate debt being the third highest in the euro zone
  • Very high dependence on the euro zone economic cycle
  • Due to its international orientation, the Netherlands is more affected than other countries in the euro zone by international issues such as Brexit, supply problems from China, and the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
  1. Petroleum, petroleum products and related materials (7.7%)
  2. Medicinal and pharmaceutical products (7.3%)
  3. Machinery and electrical equipment (5.6%)
  4. Office equipment and data processing machines (5.3%)
  5. Telecommunications and sound (recording) equipment (5%)
  1. Petroleum, petroleum products, and related materials (9.4%)
  2. Machinery and electrical equipment (7.7%)
  3. Office equipment and data processing machines (6.8%)
  4. Telecommunications and sound (recording) equipment (6.4)
  5. Road vehicles (5.1%)

In negotiations, the Dutch like to get straight to the point. While in many other cultures it is customary to get to know each other well first. The Dutch are therefore often perceived as direct and blunt. Where many countries are familiar with a clear (strict) hierarchy, the Dutch attach much less importance to it. Entrepreneurship is about getting things done. Any idea (from everyone) is welcome. The Netherlands has a consensus culture in which goals are achieved through consultation.

Trust plays an important role in doing business for Dutch entrepreneurs. They like to see 'what kind of meat they have in the tub'. Meet and discuss the business face to face. The manner of negotiating also differs, because this happens at top speed. Make quick decisions, don't waste time, don't delay. Agreements with Dutch people are often strictly time-bound. A few minutes of social talk, after which the bull is grabbed by the horns almost immediately.

In conclusion, the Dutch market is a good test market (particularly for first-time exporters) if you want to develop your business abroad. Despite its geographical proximity to Belgium, the Netherlands is distinguished by numerous specificities.

With nearly 100 years of international expertise, we help you develop your business abroad. Our unique knowledge of local conditions is based on the financial data and technical expertise of an international insurer that is a world leader in its sector. You can position yourself with confidence in international markets.

With our own offices and customers the Netherlands, we offer you all our expertise in the Netherlands to develop your business safely.