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In this page: FDI in Figures | What to consider if you invest in the Netherlands | Protection of Foreign Investment | Procedures Relative to Foreign Investment | Office Real Estate and Land Ownership | Investment Aid | Investment Opportunities | Sectors Where Investment Opportunities Are Fewer | Finding Assistance For Further Information

 

FDI in Figures

According to UNCTAD's 2021 World Investment Report, FDI flows to the Netherlands fell to USD -115 billion in 2020 due to large equity divestments following the economic crisis triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic. Some large ICT and petrochemical holding companies were liquidated or restructured in several countries in 2020. Total FDI stocks stood at USD 2.89 trillion in the same year. Outflows from the Netherlands - usually among the largest investing countries in Europe - fell by USD 246 billion to USD -161 billion in 2020, due to corporate reconfigurations and holding company liquidations. The main investing countries are the United States, Luxembourg, the United Kingdom and Switzerland. The vast majority of investments are allocated in the financial and insurance services, followed by manufacturing, wholesale and retail trade. According to the latest figures from OECD, FDI inflows to the Netherlands were still negative in the first semester of 2021(at USD -5.6 billion), although they increased in comparison with the same period one year earlier (when disinvestments reached USD 101.1 billion).

The Dutch investment policy is characterized by a strong international orientation and a liberal policy towards foreign investment. Many Dutch companies are multinational by nature and some of these are listed on foreign stock markets. The Netherlands offer a competitive fiscal climate, advanced infrastructures, and a strategic location. The country also hopes to benefit from international companies leaving London following Brexit and seeking a new base in Europe. On the other hand, the country has a small internal market and is heavily dependent on the economic performance of its partners (especially in the EU). There is currently no general FDI screening regime other than an assessment of certain transactions in the energy and telecom sectors. Nevertheless, in 2021 draft legislation was submitted to the Parliament introducing a notification obligation for investments in designated critical companies that are active in the area of sensitive technologies. The country is ranked 42nd in the latest Doing Business report published by the World Bank, losing 6 positions compared to the previous year.

 
Foreign Direct Investment 201920202021
FDI Inward Flow (million USD) -14,141-105,394-81,056
FDI Stock (million USD) 1,454,7402,719,4742,576,225
Number of Greenfield Investments* 334288315
Value of Greenfield Investments (million USD) 11,1276,6868,561

Source: UNCTAD, Latest available data.

Note: * Greenfield Investments are a form of Foreign Direct Investment where a parent company starts a new venture in a foreign country by constructing new operational facilities from the ground up.

 

FDI STOCKS BY COUNTRY AND INDUSTRY

Main Investing Countries 2019, in %
USA 22.6
Luxembourg 12.4
United Kingdom 9.2
Germany 7.0
Switzerland 5.9
Ireland 4.8
Belgium 4.0
France 3.9
Main Invested Sectors 2019, in %
Financial and insurance activities 84.9
Manufacturing 9.3
Wholesale and retail trade 2.2
Real estate 1.4
Transportation and storage 0.7

Source: OECD Statistics - Latest available data.

 
Form of Company Preferred By Foreign Investors
N. V. (Public Limited Liability Company)
Form of Establishment Preferred By Foreign Investors
Company
Main Foreign Companies
National Foreign Investment Agency has stories and names on their website.
Sources of Statistics
Dutch Statistics Agency
Dutch National Bank

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What to consider if you invest in the Netherlands

Strong Points

The main assets of the country's economy are :

  • An overall stable political and macroeconomic environment above the European average, healthy public finances and a highly developed financial sector; 
  • Highly developed communication and transport infrastructures
  • A qualified, productive and multilingual workforce that makes it suitable for export trade
  • A strategic geographical location, which makes it a gateway to the main European markets
  • Exports are diversified and external accounts are in surplus thanks to export-friendly structures and infrastructure.  
Weak Points

The main weaknesses of the country for FDI are:

  • High costs of the workforce
  • The small size of the internal market
  • A great dependence on the world economic situation and, in particular, the EU
  • Banks dependent on wholesale financing (loans/deposits = 136%) and real estate
Government Measures to Motivate or Restrict FDI
The Dutch government offers several types of financial support: grants, tax incentives, guarantees, credits, participations, subordinated loans stimulating innovation and sustainable foreign investment and entrepreneurship.

  • The WBSO (Research and Development Act). This is an R&D tax credit from the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy. It aims to offer entrepreneurs an incentive to invest in R&D, allowing companies to decrease costs for R&D.
  • Energy Investment Allowance (EIA): allows companies to deduct 45% of the investment cost of energy-saving equipment from the taxable profit in addition to the deduction of the customary depreciation.
  • Environmental Investment Deduction (MIA): allows companies to deduct up to 36% of the investment costs for an environmentally friendly investment on top of the regular investment tax deductions
  • Arbitrary depreciation of environmental investments (Vamil): allows companies to amortize 75% of the investment costs of a qualifying environmentally friendly investment at once.
  • Innovation box: Income that is a result from R&D is taxed at an effective rate of 7% (the normal tax rate is 25%).
  • Dutch Good Growth Fund supports SMEs that are prepared to invest in developing countries and emerging markets.
  • Export Credit Insurance is focused on promoting Dutch exports.

Moreover there are the regional incentives offered by the EU:
The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). The ERDF is mainly focused on strengthening economic and social cohesion in the EU by correcting imbalances between its regions.
The European Territorial Co-operation (INTERREG). This programme, which is financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), finances and supports international co-operation within particular European regions.

All government measures can be consulted on the website of the Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency.

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Protection of Foreign Investment

Bilateral Investment Conventions Signed By the Netherlands
The Netherlands has signed BITs with a large number of countries. You can consult the list on the UNCTAD's website. 
International Controversies Registered By UNCTAD
The ISDS Navigator contains information about known international arbitration cases initiated by investors against States pursuant to international investment agreements. The Netherlands is involved in 114 cases as Home State of claimant.
Organizations Offering Their Assistance in Case of Disagreement
ICCWBO , International court of arbitration, International chamber of commerce
ICSID , International Center for settlement of Investment Disputes
Member of the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency
The Netherlands has been a member of MIGA convention since its creation.
 
Country Comparison For the Protection of Investors Netherlands OECD United States Germany
Index of Transaction Transparency* 4.0 6.5 7.0 5.0
Index of Manager’s Responsibility** 4.0 5.3 9.0 5.0
Index of Shareholders’ Power*** 6.0 7.3 9.0 5.0

Source: Doing Business - Latest available data.

Note: *The Greater the Index, the More Transparent the Conditions of Transactions. **The Greater the Index, the More the Manager is Personally Responsible. *** The Greater the Index, the Easier it Will Be For Shareholders to Take Legal Action.

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Procedures Relative to Foreign Investment

Freedom of Establishment
Guaranteed.
Acquisition of Holdings
A majority holding interest in the capital of a Dutch company is legal. Depending on the sector the target company is operating in, specific regulatory approvals or notifications may be required. This is the case for acquisitions of target companies operating in the financial, healthcare or energy sectors.
Obligation to Declare
No specific text of law regulates foreign direct investments. Their regime is adjusted the refine applied for national investments. The supervision of mergers is shared by Dutch and European authorities.
Competent Organisation For the Declaration
Dutch Ministry of Finance
Requests For Specific Authorisations
The Netherlands does not have foreign restrictions to investments. However, in some specific strategic sectors, limitations apply for national security purposes. These sectors are: defence and security, energy, public broadcasting, finance, transportation, the media, postal services.

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Office Real Estate and Land Ownership

Possible Temporary Solutions
Companies are ensured a wide selection of prime office space to rent or purchase (such as Instant Offices).

In addition, the Netherlands has fully furnished and equipped business support centers available for rent, enabling new companies to hit the ground running with minimal start-up costs. Office space in these centers may be rented by the hour, day, month, year or longer.

The Possibility of Buying Land and Industrial and Commercial Buildings
There are no restrictions on the foreign ownership or occupation of real estate.
Risk of Expropriation
Expropriation would only take place in case of public interest and with adequate compensation. Up until now there have been no expropriations recorded.

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Investment Aid

Forms of Aid
The Dutch government offers several types of financial support: grants, tax incentives, guarantees, credits, participations, subordinated loans.
Concerning new businesses and investment incentives, investors can contact the Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency (NFIA) and the Netherlands Foreign Trade Agency.
Privileged Domains
The areas for which incentives are available are: technology and research and development, human resources, expanding or establishing businesses, exports, energy and environmentally friendly measures. Other industry sectors that are attractive to invest are the computer software, computer industries, chemicals, security equipment, medical equipment and pollution control (equipment) among others.
Laws and regulations that affect FDI apply equally to foreign and domestic companies.
Privileged Geographical Zones
Randstad area is the most interesting to invest in due to its location (near Schiphol Airport and the Rotterdam Port)
Free-trade zones
The Netherlands has no free trade zones (FTZs) or free ports where commodities can be processed or reprocessed tax-free.  However, FTZs exist for bonded storage, cargo consolidation, and reconfiguration of non-EU goods.
Public aid and funding organisations
The Dutch national bank and the European bank loan at favorable rates.
 
 

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Investment Opportunities

The Key Sectors of the National Economy
Agro industries, fishing, metal and engineering products, electrical machinery and equipment, chemicals, petroleum, construction and microelectronics.
High Potential Sectors
Computer software, computer services, automotive parts and accessories, seaport & airport security equipment and systems, transport and distribution services, aircraft parts and associated equipment, medical equipment and supplies and pollution control equipment.
Privatization Programmes
The energy and postal services markets are in the process of privatisation.
Tenders, Projects and Public Procurement
EBP, Tenders and Projects in Netherlands
Tenders Info, Tenders in Netherlands
Ted - Tenders Electronic daily, Business opportunities in EU 27
DgMarket, Tenders Worldwide

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Sectors Where Investment Opportunities Are Fewer

Monopolistic Sectors
The Dutch state monopoly on Holland Casino was to be privatised by 2020, but a surprise political opposition in early 2019 forced the process to stop.
The government has divested its complete ownership of many public utilities, but in a number of strategic sectors, private investment – including foreign investment – may be subject to limitations or conditions.  These include transportation, energy, defense and security, finance, postal services, public broadcasting, and the media.

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Latest Update: June 2022