Netherlands - Country Commercial Guide
Investment Climate Statement

This information is derived from the State Department's Office of Investment Affairs' Investment Climate Statement.

Last published date: 2021-11-09

The U.S. Department of State’s Investment Climate Statements provide information on the business climates of more than 170 economies and are prepared by economic officers stationed in embassies and posts around the world.  They analyze a variety of economies that are or could be markets for U.S. businesses.

Topics include Openness to Investment, Legal and Regulatory systems, Dispute Resolution, Intellectual Property Rights, Transparency, Performance Requirements, State-Owned Enterprises, Responsible Business Conduct, and Corruption.

These statements highlight persistent barriers to further U.S. investment.  Addressing these barriers would expand high-quality, private sector-led investment in infrastructure, further women’s economic empowerment, and facilitate a healthy business environment for the digital economy.  To access the ICS, visit the U.S. Department of Department of State’s Investment Climate Statement website. 

Executive Summary

The Netherlands consistently ranks among the world’s most competitive industrialized economies. It offers an attractive business and investment climate and remains a welcoming location for business investment from the United States and elsewhere.

Strengths of the Dutch economy include the Netherlands’ stable political and macroeconomic climate, a highly developed financial sector, strategic location, well-educated and productive labor force, and high-quality physical and communications infrastructure. Investors in the Netherlands take advantage of its highly competitive logistics, anchored by the largest seaport and fourth-largest airport in Europe. In telecommunications, the Netherlands has one of the highest internet penetrations in the European Union (EU) at 96 percent and hosts one of the largest data transport hubs in the world, the Amsterdam Internet Exchange.

The Netherlands is among the largest recipients and sources of foreign direct investment (FDI) in the world and one of the largest historical recipients of direct investment from the United States. This can be attributed to the Netherlands’ competitive economy, historically business-friendly tax climate, and many investment treaties containing investor protections. The Dutch economy has significant foreign direct investment in a wide range of sectors including logistics, information technology, and manufacturing. Dutch tax policy continues to evolve in response to EU attempts to harmonize tax policy across member states.

In the wake of the worldwide 2007-2008 financial crisis, the Dutch government implemented significant reforms in key policy areas, including the labor market, the housing sector, the energy market, the pension system, and health care. Dutch reform policies were crafted in close consultation with key stakeholders, including business associations, labor unions, and civil society groups. This consultative approach, often referred to as the Dutch “polder model,” is how Dutch policy is generally developed.

Until the COVID-19 crisis, years of recovery and associated “catch-up” economic growth had placed the Dutch economy in a very healthy position, with successive years of a budget surplus, public debt that was well under 50 percent of GDP, and record-low unemployment of 3.5 percent. This allowed the Dutch government significant fiscal space to implement coronavirus relief measures aimed at specific commercial sectors and at the economy at large. The government’s economic relief package required nearly €60 billion in the first twelve months of the COVID-19 crisis.

Prior to COVID-19, the Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis (CPB) forecast stable but low growth for the coming years, with annual GDP growth at around 1.5 percent. Although the pandemic caused a shock to Dutch GDP comparable in size to the 2009 European sovereign debt crisis, with an economic contraction of 3.7 percent, the CPB forecasts the economic recovery to accelerate in the second half of 2021 as vaccinations provide herd immunity and shuttered sectors open again for business; GDP is forecast to grow by 2.2 percent in 2021 and 3.5 percent in 2022. On average, annual economic growth over the next four years is estimated to be 2.2 percent of GDP, surpassing the 2019 level of GDP by late 2021. Although the CPB leaves some room for a more severe scenario, it forecasts that unemployment will rise as the economic relief measures wind down, from 3.8 percent in 2020 to a peak of 4.7 percent in 2022.

When measured by country of foreign parent, the Netherlands is the top destination for U.S. FDI abroad, per 2019, holding over $860 billion out of a total of $6 trillion total outbound U.S. investment – about 15 percent. For the Netherlands, inbound FDI from the United States represented 17 percent of total inbound FDI. Investment from the Netherlands contributed $487 billion FDI to the United States of the $4.5 trillion total inbound FDI– about 11 percent. For the Netherlands, outbound FDI to the United States represented 16 percent of all direct investment abroad.