Netherlands, a gateway to Europe


Netherlands, a gateway to Europe

Despite its small size, the Netherlands is a major player in global trade

By Sadiq Shaban

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Published: Tue 26 Apr 2016, 5:53 PM

Last updated: Tue 26 Apr 2016, 7:55 PM

Ranked among the top 20 most competitive economies of the world, the Netherlands is an affluent country. Despite Europe registering an average growth rate in the last decade and a half, the Netherlands' economy has managed to hold steady. Hugely reliant on foreign trade, an important benchmark of the Dutch economy has been its fairly stable relations with other countries, low rates of unemployment and critical role as a key European transport hub.
Last year less than 7 per cent of the Dutch were unemployed. Interestingly, the number of people out of work has stabilised on a much lower level than in most other European countries. Overall, the unemployment rate in the continent is more than 9.6 per cent. Experts say that the Netherlands has been successful in implementing flexible labour laws. Effective government measures mean that there are fewer people out of work than expected. 
Hub of Europe
The country is a big transportation hub in Europe. With Rotterdam as the biggest port in Europe and Amsterdam as one of the biggest airports in the region, the country plays a major role in storage, transshipment, industrial processing and auxiliary services, as well as transport, packing, warehousing and distribution across the continent. The Netherlands is one of the leading road transport nations in Europe and its largest inland shipper. The Betuweroute, a dedicated double-track freight railway, enables fast transport of containers and bulk goods from Holland to other parts of Europe.
Despite being a small country, the Netherlands is a major player in global trade. With its specialised industries of food processing, petroleum refining, high tech, financial services, creative sector and electrical machinery, the country's exports top $550 billion annually. Major imports include machines, engines and pumps (14 per cent of total exports), oil (13 per cent), electronic equipment (13 per cent), pharmaceuticals (5 per cent) and medical, technical equipment (4.5 per cent). Vehicles, organic chemicals, and iron and steel are some other export product groups that are in high demand from Holland. 
Relationship with the UAE
Outside Europe, Holland has excellent trade relations with the Middle East. The mutual trade between the Netherlands and the UAE rose by 8.6 per cent this year to ?3.86 billion whereas the total trade between the Netherlands and the Gulf region was worth ?14 billion. While Saudi Arabia is the country's biggest trading partner in the Gulf region, the UAE is its largest export market. Close to 40 per cent of all the Dutch exports to the Gulf region come to the UAE.
More than 200 Dutch firms - mainly in oil and gas industry, agriculture, aerospace and dredging - have found a home in the UAE. Dutch companies like Shell, Unilever, Philips, AkzoNobel, FrieslandCampina, Van Oord, Boskalis, Vopak, Royal Haskoning DHV, ING and ABN AMRO have investments in the UAE. Its exports to the UAE primarily include machinery, electronic and technical equipment, foodstuffs, pharmaceutical products and steel. Holland imports several items including dates from the UAE.

.GDP: $869 billion (2015)
.GDP per capita: $43,000
.Annual growth: 1.6 per cent
.Inflation: 0.6 per cent
.(Source: Statistics Netherlands - CBS)
Facts and Figures
.Total population: 16.9 million
.Capital city: Amsterdam
.Government: The Hague
.Official languages: Dutch, Frisian (only spoken in Friesland)
.Currency: Euro
.National holidays: King's Day (April 27) and Liberation Day (May 5)
Last year nearly 14 million foreign tourists visited the Netherlands. The Dutch tourism industry contributes more than 5.4 per cent to the country's economy and nearly 10 per cent in total to its employment.

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