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Netherlands: Doing business and staying in touch

Doing Business in Netherlands

The Dutch are known for directness in business - they like to cut to the heart of the matter. Appointments are necessary and promptness is expected. The Dutch expect a certain standard of dress for business occasions. Following introduction, business cards are exchanged. Don't use first names with associates unless first asked to do so. Best months for business visits are March to May and September to November.

Practical information can be obtained from Holland Trade and Invest (tel: (088) 602 80 60; The majority of Dutch businesspeople speak extremely good English, and promotional literature can be disseminated in English. However, interpreters can be booked through Congrestolken (tel: (020) 625 2535;

Alternatively, they can be booked through The Netherlands Chamber of Commerce in the country of departure. There are also many secretarial agencies in The Netherlands which are able to supply short-term help to visiting business travellers. The principal venue for trade fairs is the RAI Exhibition Centre in Amsterdam (

Office Hours

Mon-Fri 0900-1700.


The Netherlands has a typical developed European economy. It is also the world's second-largest exporter of farm produce (after the USA), accounting for 16% of total export earnings. Dairy products, meat, vegetables and flowers are the main products. Industry is concentrated in agriculture, petrochemicals and plastics, pharmaceuticals, synthetic fibres and food processing.

There is also a wide range of light industries, including the manufacturing of electronic goods (Philips, of Eindhoven is a major global brand), although the historically strong textile industry has been in long-term decline. By contrast, The Netherlands has developed a strong base in advanced technological industries including computing, telecommunications and biotechnology. Deposits of natural gas (the only mineral resource of any size) meet much of the country's energy needs.

Service industries are also important, representing 70% of the economy, notably transport through the world's busiest container port at Rotterdam. The Netherlands has derived substantial benefits from its membership of the EU, with whose members the bulk of its trade takes place. It has generally been a strong proponent of further economic integration within Europe and joined the Eurozone upon its inception in 1999.
The largest conference and exhibition centres are RAI in Amsterdam (, the Jaarbeurs centre in Utrecht (, MECC in Maastricht (, and Ahoy in Rotterdam ( There are numerous hotels offering conventions and meetings facilities, and The Netherlands is well supplied with 'unique' venues, such as Eindhoven's Evoluon ( and Corpus ( at Leiden.


US$846 billion (2018 estimate).

Main exports

Machinery and equipment, chemicals, fuels and food, natural gas.

Main imports

Machinery and transport equipment, oil, chemicals, fuels, food and clothes.

Main trading partners

EU countries (mainly Germany, France, UK and Belgium), and China.

Keeping in Touch in Netherlands


Public telephone booths no longer exist in The Netherlands. There are public pay phones at the airports. They can be used with coins, a credit card or with special vouchers. 

Mobile Phone

Roaming agreements exist with most international mobile phone companies. There are no roaming charges within the EU. To avoid high roaming costs it is advisable to buy a local SIM card. Coverage is universal.


Wi-Fi is ubiquitous in The Netherlands. There are also many internet cafes and some internet access centres. In Amsterdam computers are available to use free of charge in libraries and public buildings.


The Dutch have a unique approach to public broadcasting. Programmes are made by a variety of groups, some reflecting political or religious currents in society, others representing interest groups. These organisations are allocated airtime on TV and radio, in line with the number of members they have. The TV market is very competitive, with many private stations also currently flourishing. The Dutch also have one of the highest cable take-up rates in Europe. Every province has at least one local public TV channel. Freedom of press and free speech is guaranteed by the constitution. Among the leading daily newspapers are Het Parool, De Telegraaf and the left-of-center NRC Handelsblad. For Dutch news in English, see


Stamps are available from all post offices as well as from tobacconists and kiosks selling postcards and souvenirs. Mail within Europe takes approximately two to five days.

Post Office hours

Mon-Fri 0900-1700. Some post offices in major towns are also open on late shopping nights (Thurs or Fri) and Sat 0900-1200/1230. There are all-night post offices in Amsterdam and Rotterdam.

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