Dutch firms must be more export-minded, says report

Loading container ships in Rotterdam. Photo: Depositphotos.com

Despite the fact that the Netherlands has the second largest trade surplus in the EU, Dutch companies must become more export-conscious, an advisory report for the next government claims, the Financieele Dagblad said on Friday.

The Dutch trade surplus in 2016 was the second-highest in the EU at 10.9% of GDP. Ireland was far and away the highest at 41% of GDP, but the EU average was only 2%.

The report Team Nederland: samen sterker in de wereld was handed to ministers at the end of last month. It says the present trade surplus is far too low and that €180m must be invested in broader financing possibilities, with an additional annual €50m to foster trade.

The goal, the report states, is to generate 40% of net national income abroad by 2030. At present the figure is 32%.

Chris Buijink, who presented the plan to caretaker ministers Henk Kamp (economic affairs) and Liliane Ploumen (trade), said this is no exaggeration. ‘Indeed were are doing very well but very well is not good enough.’

Buijink, a former civil servant who now chairs the Dutch banking association (NVB), said the Netherlands must step up export efforts in developing markets. He cautioned that only 12% of Dutch companies are active internationally.

Brexit, the election of Donald Trump and 40% of French voters who are expected to back Marine Le Pen in France’s election this Sunday make this strategy more urgent. ‘Competition is increasing,’ he said.

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