U.S. firms register relatively few trade complaints in the Netherlands. The Dutch tend to support a level playing field in trade matters. Their long history with the benefits of trade positions the Dutch as the genuine “neutral” traders of Europe. U.S. companies setting up a business in the Netherlands, however, will encounter a complex business culture in which companies, trade unions, government bodies, and industry associations engage in constant and close consultations. This stems from the traditional Dutch emphasis on achieving consensus.
There is a trend, particularly with larger government procurements, to “buy European” when no Dutch products are available. The Dutch government sees political advantages in buying European, especially when all other criteria are equal in a bid competition. In this regard, local representation is essential for U.S. companies who hope to win government contracts. Companies looking to compete on Dutch government procurement contracts should contact the U.S. Commercial Service in the Netherlands early in the process for guidance and possible advocacy, particularly if there are political or “level playing field” issues at play.
Information on agricultural trade barriers can be found on the USDA website.
To report existing or new trade barriers and request assistance in removing them, contact the Office of Trade Agreements Negotiation and Compliance (TANC).