Dutch business model attracting UAE firms
Frank Mollen, Ambassador at the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Abu Dhabi.
Dubai - UAE-Netherlands ties a 'great example of cooperation'
The Netherlands is turning out to be an attractive investment destination for UAE firms.
"Currently, we have 60 investment projects from the Mena region together investing more than 1.1 billion euros and creating more than 2,000 jobs. Twenty-seven of the 60 projects come from the UAE," says Jeroen C.M. Nijland, commissioner of the Ministry of Economic Affairs at the Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency (NFIA), during an interview with Khaleej Times.
The NFIA is celebrating its 40th anniversary and 10 years of setting up office in Dubai and provides assistance to companies who want to invest in the Netherlands.
"We are part of the Ministry of Economic Affairs in the Netherlands and it is our job to assist foreign companies to expand their businesses to the Netherlands. Currently, we have 28 offices in 17 countries all over the world," Nijland adds.
According to Nijland, there are many investment opportunities for UAE companies in the Netherlands. It relates to key sectors like energy, chemical projects, ICT, life sciences, creative industries, etc. "Many companies in the region use the Netherlands as an entry point to the European market. They establish their logistics centre and marketing sales department or their headquarters," he notes.
The Dutch government supports businesses establishing in the Netherlands by providing free services to companies while maintaining confidentiality.
"What we do is talk to businesses and find out what they are doing and what they want to do in the European market. We try to connect them with the right partners in the Netherlands. We give them customised information about the business climate in the Netherlands and organise fact finding trips. They can literally come over and see and talk to the people. Once they've established themselves in our country, we stay in touch as we want to know whether they are doing well or not," Nijland explains.
"If we have offices in one country, we help businesses in surrounding countries as well. We have an office in Singapore that covers the Southeast Asia region. Every company that is seriously considering to open up in Europe is welcome to connect with us. We do require a certain level of employment related to the investment project. Apart from that, everybody is welcome as long as they create employment," he adds.
Speaking about future plans for the UAE and GCC, Nijland says that they would focus on energy-related projects. "As the economy in the UAE starts to diversify, we are modernising our portfolio. Now we are targeting fast-growing companies in the IT sector." Regarding visa requirements, Nijland stresses that visa is required. "We facilitate visas as long as companies are serious about investment and creating jobs. We have an office in Dubai where three people are stationed permanently and they help out businesses in the UAE and the Mena region as a whole."
An example of the NFIA's success is the Baron Group. Jude Benjamin, executive director of Baron Emperor International, says: "The Netherlands is a multicultural country. It is English-speaking with very transparent laws. I've set up a company with Euros 5 million as investment and collaborated with the BSS Group, a government-assisted organisation producing high-end steel used for various industries like construction, marine, infrastructure, and oil and gas. We produce it there and distribute it to the European market and the Mena region."
The Netherlands is determined to show the world that it is more than happy to build trade relationships with other countries and follow up on its early success in the UAE.
"We are going to focus on the nexus - food, water and energy - in the region, including the UAE," said Frank Mollen, Ambassador at the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Abu Dhabi.
"We are also good at health, aerospace, oil and gas, consumer products, etc. That's the trade relationship. Good relationship between two countries is also when we believe in each other and believe in each other's economic model and environment. This is where the NFIA [Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency] comes in. The NFIA's role is to show the world how good the Netherlands is - we have a great education system, we speak English well, we have more English speaking universities and institutes and we are the gateway for Europe," he pointed out.
"An example of the success of the NFIA in the UAE is the Baron Group that produces specialised steel products. Companies such as the Baron Group conform with environmental and social standards and fit in with the Dutch model of success and responsibility going together. This is a great example of cooperation between our two countries," Mollen added.
Jeroen C.M. Nijland, commissioner of the Ministry of Economic Affairs at the Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency.
Jude Benjamin, executive director of Baron Emperor International.