Netherlands - Commercial Guide
Market Overview

Discusses key economic indicators and trade statistics, which countries are dominant in the market, the U.S. market share, the political situation if relevant, the top reasons why U.S. companies should consider exporting to this country, and other issues that affect trade, e.g., terrorism, currency devaluations, trade agreements.

Last published date: 2020-10-10

The Netherlands is a geographically small (approximately the size of Connecticut and Massachusetts combined), densely populated (17 million people) country occupying a highly strategic commercial location. Over 170 million consumers (more than one-third of the population of the European Union) reside within a 300-mile radius of the Netherlands. The country is a key center within the global business network, with advanced infrastructure geared towards the transportation of goods, people, and data. Its core distribution points include Rotterdam, Europe’s largest port, and Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, the fourth largest airport in Europe for cargo. The country has capitalized on its location and advanced economy to become one of the top trading nations in the world. The Netherlands is the seventeenth largest economy in the world and the fourth largest in the European Monetary Union (the Eurozone), with a gross domestic product (GDP) of $909 billion in 2019.

The United States and the Netherlands have a strong bilateral relationship, based on close historical, cultural, and commercial ties. The relationship dates back to the American Revolution and is one of the United States’ oldest, continuous bilateral relationships. The United States is the largest foreign investor in the Netherlands, and has its second largest trade surplus ($21.4 billion in 2019) with the Netherlands.

The Netherlands is consistently recognized as having one of the best business climates by various international surveys. The 2019 World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Index ranked the Netherlands as fourth among the world's most competitive economies. Forbes ranked the Netherlands fourth on their 2019 Best Countries for Business list.

Top five reasons why U.S. companies should consider exporting to the Netherlands:

  • The ideal European starting point for new-to-export companies looking for their first European distributor.
  • An affluent, U.S.-friendly population with a high regard for U.S. products and the highest level of English-language fluency on the continent.
  • An innovative business community hungry for new, high quality products.
  • The most advanced logistics and distribution network in Europe.
  • Strong links to the rest of Europe and beyond.

The Dutch economy grew by 1.7 percent in 2019, and was predicted to grow by 1.5 percent in 2020. Due to the global health crisis, economic activity declined by an unprecedented 10 to 15 percent during the first half of 2020. The CBP Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis’ June 2020 forecast predicts a six percent decrease in GDP for 2020, followed by a three percent increase during the recovery in 2021. The report stresses that it is difficult to make economic predictions due to the current level of uncertainty in the world.  

At the time of writing this report, the economic and commercial effects in the Netherlands of the global health crisis continue to evolve. As such, the second half of 2020, and possibly beyond, will bring an ever-changing and unpredictable economic and commercial environment. Therefore, it will be more important than ever to monitor current local developments and consult with on-the-ground experts, including this office, to assess changing opportunities and challenges.