The Netherlands, the sixth-largest economy in the European Union, plays an important role as a European transportation hub, with a persistently high trade surplus, stable industrial relations, and moderate unemployment. Industry focuses on food processing, chemicals, petroleum refining, and electrical machinery.
A highly mechanized agricultural sector employs only 2% of the labor force but provides large surpluses for food-processing and underpins the country’s status as the world’s second largest agricultural exporter. The Netherlands is part of the Eurozone, and as such, its monetary policy is controlled by the European Central Bank. The Dutch financial sector is highly concentrated, with four commercial banks possessing over 90% of banking assets. The sector suffered as a result of the global financial crisis and required billions of dollars of government support, but the European Banking Authority completed stringent reviews in 2014 and deemed Dutch banks to be well-capitalized.
To address the 2009 and 2010 economic downturns, the government sought to stimulate the domestic economy by accelerating infrastructure programs, offering corporate tax breaks for employers to retain workers, and expanding export credits. The stimulus programs and bank bailouts, however, resulted in a government budget deficit of 5.3% of GDP in 2010 that contrasted sharply with a surplus of 0.7% in 2008. The government of Prime Minister Mark RUTTE has since implemented significant austerity measures to improve public finances and has instituted broad structural reforms in key policy areas, including the labor market, the housing sector, the energy market, and the pension system. As a result, the government budget deficit at the end of 2014 dropped to 1.8% of GDP.
Following a protracted recession during which unemployment doubled to 7.4% and household consumption contracted for nearly three consecutive years, the year 2014 saw fragile GDP growth of 0.8 percent and a rise in most economic indicators. Drivers of growth included increased exports and business investments, as well as newly invigorated household consumption.
|Population||16,877,351 (July 2014)|
|GDP (real growth rate)||0.8% (2014 est.)|
|GDP – composition, by end use:||
household consumption: 44.7%
government consumption: 26.2%
investment in fixed capital: 18.8%
investment in inventories: 0.1%
exports of goods and services: 83.6%
imports of goods and services: -73.4%
|GDP – composition, by sector of origin:||
|Industries||agro industries, metal and engineering products, electrical machinery and equipment, chemicals, petroleum, construction, microelectronics, fishing|
|Industrial production growth rate:||-1.5% (2014 est.)|
|Labour force||8.214 million (2014 est.)|
|Unemployment rate||7.4% (2014 est.)|
|Inflation rate||0.3% (2014 est.)|
For useful statistical information and publications covering a multitude of societal aspects, from macro-economic indicators such as economic growth and consumer prices, to the individuals’ and households’ incomes, please visit the website of the Dutch Central Bureau of Statistics: www.cbs.nl.
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