The Netherlands is one of Europe’s most compelling investment opportunities, despite not being the first name on every CEO’s mind when considering international expansion. Large city regions in countries, such as the UK, France or Germany, can often have more allure as gateways into Europe, but any decision maker who fails to look beyond this established order is making a mistake. A cursory look at the credentials of The Netherlands as an investment destination, immediately shows its vast potential.
The Netherlands is a relatively small nation of just 17 million people, but its global influence in areas such as sports, culture and economics far outweighs its size. In terms of surface area and population size, it ranks 134th and 65th in the world respectively, however a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of EUR679 billion makes it the 17th largest economy in the world and the 6th largest in the European Union. The country was named by the World Economic Forum’s 2017-18 Global Competitive Index as the fourth best country to do business in, due to factors such as high levels of labour productivity, a well-educated workforce and its strategic location in Europe.
This is a potent combination of factors, adding up to a compelling proposition for any international investor or multi-national company looking for a base with which to expand into Europe, a regional headquarters for trade with countries outside the European Union or a partnership with an existing business.
Taking its location in Europe as an example, The Netherlands is an established hub for import and export of goods, with global manufacturers using the large international seaport of Rotterdam (Europort) and Amsterdam’s Schipol Airport as gateways into the continent. It is home to more distribution centres than anywhere else in Europe and has the largest inland shipping fleet in Europe. It is also the fifth-largest exporter of goods in the world, selling USD 668 billion of products in 2015, amounting to 3.5 per cent of total global exports.
Putting aside the more obvious advantages, there is also a range of less well-understood reasons to invest in the Netherlands that are equally persuasive. The Dutch authorities are extremely business-orientated and have created a fertile ground for established organisations and entrepreneurs to thrive in. Innovation is strongly encouraged in the Netherlands, via tax benefits and grants for entrepreneurs. A significant proportion of the Dutch working population is self-employed, and the Dutch government promotes start-ups because they create economic vitality, challenging existing firms and giving them the incentive to adapt and innovate.
The Dutch economy is also well equipped for new tech paradigms such as cryptocurrency and blockchain, with the Dutch Authority for the Financial Markets (AFM) and the Dutch Central Bank (DNB) issuing regular updates on ongoing regulatory developments in the sector. There is a highly developed ICT infrastructure with specialist hubs such as The Hague Security Delta which focuses on cybersecurity.
A competitive statutory corporate income tax rate compared to the rest of Europe is attractive to potential investors. It is expected to drop in the coming years to 17 per cent on the first EUR200,000 of taxable profits and rises to 20.5 per cent for profits exceeding that figure. The Netherlands has a wide network of almost 100 bilateral tax treaties, designed to help businesses with operations in the country to avoid double taxation.
Finally, if that weren’t enough, The Netherlands sits 10th on the United Nations Human Development Index, which records levels of prosperity and human well-being, such as life expectancy, public health and educational standards.
In this brochure you will hear from nine lawyers with expertise in different areas of Dutch business law critical to investment. We include articles on tax law, employment via digital platforms, customs and excise, tort law and cryptocurrency investment, among others.
As well as showcasing the innovative nature of the Dutch economy, we hope this provide a useful tool to help investors navigate any potential challenges they may face when deciding to invest in The Netherlands.