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Last updated : Nov 2009
Netherlands Business
Netherlands Business Overview - TravelPuppy.com
Netherlands Economy

The Netherlands is the world’s third-largest exporter of farm produce (after the USA and France), accounting for 16 per cent of total export earnings and a typical developed European economy.

Dairy products, vegetables, meat and flowers are the main products. Industry is concentrated in petrochemicals and plastics, pharmaceuticals, synthetic fibres and food processing. There is also a wide range of light industries, including the manufacturing of electronic goods, although the historically strong textiles has been in long-term decline. By contrast, The Netherlands has developed a strong base in advanced technological industries including computing, telecommunications and biotechnology.

Deposits of natural gas, meet much of the netherland's energy needs. Service industries are also important, notably transport through the world’s busiest container port at Rotterdam. The Netherlands has derived substantial benefits from its membership of the European Union, with whose members the bulk of its trade takes place. It has generally been a strong proponent of further economic integration within Europe and joined the Eurozone upon its inception during January 1999.

In 2003, the government increased taxes and cut spending in order to stay within the limits imposed by Maastricht criteria which govern the operation of the Eurozone. The global economic slow-down which took hold in 2001 reduced annual GDP growth to 1.5 per cent, and during the following year to just 0.2 per cent. In 2003, the Dutch economy was expected to contract by 0.3 per cent. Inflation has declined from 5.1 per cent in 2001 to its present level of 2.3 per cent, and unemployment has climbed gently to 4 per cent.

Germany is the largest single trading partner, accounting for about 25 per cent of country's imports and exports. Belgium/Luxembourg, France and the UK follow. Overall, two-thirds of Dutch trade is with the European Union. The Netherlands is a founder member of the Benelux Economic Union and of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

Business Etiquette

Appointments are necessary and visiting cards are exchanged. The Dutch expect a certain standard of dress for business occasions. Best months for business visits are March to May and September to November.

The majority of Dutch businesspeople speak extremely good English, and promotional literature can be disseminated in English.

There are also many secretarial agencies in The Netherlands, such as International Secretaries, who will be able to supply short-term help to visiting business travellers.

Office hours

Office hours: Monday-Friday 0830 hrs-1700 hrs.

Commercial Information

The following organisations can offer advice, The Hague Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Konigskade 30, 2502 LS Gravenhage, The Hague (telephone number: (70) 328 7100, fax number: (70) 326 2010, e-mail: info@denhaag.kvk.nl, website: www.denhaag.kvk.nl),

Amsterdam Chamber of Commerce and Industry, De Ruyterkade 5, 1000 CW Amsterdam
(telephone number: (20) 531 4000, fax number: (20) 531 4799, e-mail: post@amsterdam.kvk.nl; website: www.amsterdam.kvk.nl); or The Netherlands Chamber of Commerce, Imperial House, 15-19 Kingsway, London WC2B 6UN, UK (telephone number: (020) 7539 7960, fax number: (020) 7836 6988, e-mail: info@nbcc.co.uk; website: www.nbcc.co.uk).

Practical information can be obtained from the Economic Information Service in The Hague (telephone number: (70) 379 8933, fax number: (70) 379 7878, e-mail: evd@evd.nl, website: www.hollandtrade.com).


The largest conference and exhibition centres are RAI in Amsterdam and the Jaarbeurs in Utrecht.

There are smaller centres in The Hague, Rotterdam and Maastricht, as well as many hotels with facilities. The fourth-largest conference centre in The Netherlands is Noordwijk, where the largest hotel has a helipad, this small seaside town has won prizes for its clean beaches.

Amsterdam and The Hague both have business centres. For further information, contact The Netherlands Board of Tourism in London (see Contact section) or The Hague Convention Bureau, PO Box 85456, 2508 CD The Hague (telephone number: (70) 361 8849, fax number: (70) 361 5459, e-mail: conventionbureau@spdh.net.