The US and Canada are fuelling a record influx of foreign investment in the Netherlands; our local expert looks at why

Despite a fair bit of doom and gloom over global economy figures, foreign companies continue to grow – and they continue to look at the Netherlands to help fuel that growth.

The Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency (NFIA), an operational unit of the ministries of Economic Affairs and Foreign Affairs, reported recently that it assisted in attracting 187 new foreign investment projects to the country, worth nearly $3.5bn in planned investment and creating more than 6,000 jobs.

And it's North America that makes up the bulk of the investment; 70 projects and nearly $2.9bn in capital investment come from the US and Canada. Headquarters projects set the pace, followed by manufacturing and distribution centres, with functions including marketing and sales offices, service and data centres, and R&D facilities for sectors from IT and life sciences to the creative industries.

"The Netherlands is clearly a business location of choice for North American companies," said Jan-Emile van Rossum, Executive Director of NFIA North America.

"Our technology strengths, innovative mindset, highly educated workforce and world-class transportation and technology infrastructure are attracting investments from some of the biggest names in business."

Netflix, Stryker, Coravin, DoubleDutch and Medline are among the US companies that opened European headquarters in the Netherlands last year, while American Eagle, Expedia, Liquavista and Palo Alto Networks expanded operations and Ball Corporation and PPG Industries invested in manufacturing plants.

Google is also building a new $661m data centre in Eemshaven in the northern province of Groningen.  

The single largest investment was from Canadian company Northland Power, which is investing nearly $1.8 billion in Gemini, an offshore wind park off the northern coast of the Netherlands.

It's no wonder so many companies are choosing the Netherlands for their next phase in growth. Much has been said of the country's attractive business environment, but that's not all...

  • Strategic location: The Netherlands is very centrally positioned in Europe, with direct access to European markets and beyond. 
  • International business environment: The Netherlands has an international outlook, boasting openness to foreign investment; 50% of Dutch GDP derives from international activities. The country came No 4 in Bloomberg's Best Countries for Business in 2013. 
  • Superior technology infrastructure: Amsterdam is home to one of the world's largest internet exchange points, the Amsterdam Internet Exchange (AMS-IX), and with Schiphol airport being Europe's best for both cargo and passenger transport the art of crossing borders for business can be done quickly and efficiently. 
  • Favourable fiscal climate: The Netherlands offers a competitive fiscal climate - there is a wide tax treaty network reducing withholding taxes on dividends, interests and royalties; favourable tax treatment for foreign employees; and transfer pricing practice in accordance with OECD transfer pricing guidelines. 
  • Access to talent: Dutch professionals are among the most multilingual in the world and the country boasts one of Europe's most highly-educated, flexible and motivated workforces. Additionally, Dutch labour law provides a range of possibilities to flexibly engage employees. Business can be conducted with an open, innovative approach with a mindset of creativity, collaboration and reliability. 
  • Quality of life: There is a high standard of living, and the cost of living in such a multicultural and open-minded society is affordable. There are even dedicated regional expat desks available that offer practical support to relocating international executives.

Of course, if you're considering expanding into the Netherlands – whether from North America or elsewhere in the globe – it is best to partner with a local expert who can keep you compliant in the local market. A lack of local knowledge can result in tax penalties, lost business or even criminal and civil litigation.

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