A Guide to DoingBusiness in the Netherlands

Dutch Market Insights

The Netherlands is an industrialised and competitive market with a population of over 17 million. However, the Covid-19 pandemic has created a new set of challenges for the Dutch market.

Enterprise Ireland is responding to the global crisis by working with Irish exporters to help them avail of business response supports announced by the Government. These supports are designed to help businesses stabilise and adapt to the evolving situation, in preparation for getting back on the road to recovery.

Market Overview

The Netherlands’ geographical position makes it an important hub for Europe’s transport. Known for its economic stability, it is one of the most open and outward looking economies in the world. The Netherlands is one of the EU’s largest exporters and the 7th largest globally. A trading nation of old, almost 80% of the country’s economy is based on foreign trade. In 2021, the country moved to fourth place in the IMD world competitiveness rankings.

4th in Global Competitive Ranking

Enterprise Ireland client exports €1.71bn (2020)

€45,900 GDP per Capita (2020)

Get Export Ready

With a history as trading merchants that goes back centuries, the Dutch are sophisticated and experienced business people. The country is home to a high concentration of multinational companies, many of which have their headquarters in either Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague or Utrecht. The Dutch insurance market is the fifth largest in Europe. There are more than 400 pension funds operating from the Netherlands. Rotterdam is the largest seaport in Europe by total freight shipped.

Key Market Sectors

Enterprise Ireland is playing a key role in supporting ambitious companies seeking opportunities in the Netherland’s agri-food, life sciences and energy sectors.

Additionally, water, chemicals, creative and logistics continue to perform and add appeal to Irish exporters and service providers who want to scale, and develop a presence in the Netherland’s market.

Read more on the Netherland’s sectoral successes in our Going Global Guide.

  • Over €1 billion in Enterprise Ireland client exports to the Netherlands
  • Ranked no. 1 in Europe for digital connectivity
  • Ranked no 1. in the world for overall logistics performance

Doing Business

Don’t call it Holland – it’s like referring to Ireland as Leinster.

Dutch people tend to be very direct and can come across as confrontational. Small talk is typically kept to a minimum. When setting up a meeting, ensure you have a clear agenda in advance and rely on facts in your presentation.

Avoid being late as punctuality is extremely important in the Netherlands.

Best Routes to Market

Choosing the right route to market is very important.

Agents bring a deep understanding of local business practices and distributors can deliver products geographically across large nations. Joint ventures and acquisitions bring valuable established contacts, customers and market knowledge. Local representatives may not always be necessary with many global markets open to direct sales and prospecting from Ireland. Other markets require a ‘boots on the ground’ approach – the power of referrals and networking shouldn’t be underestimated. The key routes to market in the Netherlands are direct sales, commercial agents, partnerships, distributors and joint ventures. Download our Going Global Guide to the Netherlands to find out more.

Before You Go

Before you go, we recommend you invest some time in researching the terrain before you explore the Dutch market. Here’s a few starting points to consider…

  1. Market Landscape
  2. Market Trends
  3. Target Market
  4. Market Segmentation
  5. Market Competition
  6. Market Research Resources

Enterprise Ireland’s Market Research Centre offers client companies access to market intelligence in the form of company, sector, market, and country information to explore opportunities and compete in international markets.

Helping You Succeed

We are committed to helping you succeed in global markets and have an immense wealth of knowledge and expertise in the Dutch market.

Enterprise Ireland assists clients entering new markets with pre-visit support, in-market support, international trade events, additional supports and access to mentors.

Our Market Advisors are always available to support you and provide business expertise and on-the-ground knowledge.

Nick Marmion
Interim Manager, Benelux
Email: Nick.Marmion@enterprise-ireland.com


Enterprise Ireland Amsterdam Office
World Trade Centre
Strawinskylaan 1351 1077 XX

00 31 20 676 3141