Sunday 05 December 2021

Cities, companies warn about the Dutch foreign investment climate

The European Medicines Agency has brought hundreds of new jobs to the Netherlands. Photo: Odi Busman

A total of 120 companies, mayors and other organisations have signed a manifesto drawn up by the Netherlands’ two biggest employers organisations which calls on the government to improve the Netherlands’ foreign investment climate.

‘If we want the Netherlands to remain attractive [as a business location], action is needed on six fronts,’ the document states. Making sure the country is an attractive and comfortable place to live is of major importance, as is ensuring the population is well educated and that the country’s expertise is ‘world class’.

In addition, excellent public transport links are vital, both within the country and with the rest of the world, the government must have a strategic approach to industry and the government itself must be ‘trustworthy and predictable’, the document said.

The Netherlands scores highly on many international rankings but, for example, Belgium is now investing more in R&D than the Netherlands. Traffic jams are now back, making the country more difficult to get around in and the shortage of affordable housing is acute.

Dutch profit tax is currently higher than the European average and mooted changes in the tax system are also leading companies to doubt a move to the Netherlands, the organisations say.

‘We are well placed in many areas but the foreign investment climate is worsening at a time when other countries are becoming more attractive,’ said Ingrid Thijssen, head of the VNO-NCW employers organisation.

‘We are worried about the way Dutch children are performing in schools… and about the way government policy is becoming less stable,’ she said. ‘Companies invest when they know where they are. For decades, the Netherlands was a shining example of this, but no longer.’

Foreign firms

In total, 305 foreign firms agreed to set up in business in the Netherlands last year down 25% on 2019, Dutch foreign investment agency NFIA said in February.

The drop in foreign investment is mainly due to coronavirus but also to the fact the Dutch investment climate has become less attractive, NFIA chief Jeroen Nijland told Radio 1 news at the time.

The 305 firms are expected to generate 8,600 direct jobs within three years – a figure which is down 40% on 2019 and the lowest figure in six years.

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