The Netherlands is a multilingual, internationally-focused trading country with good infrastructure. The Netherlands has developed into a diversified economy, whose strengths lie in its services sectors.

Amsterdam, Netherlands

The Netherlands' strategic location within Europe, its population with strong language and entrepreneurial skills, quality infrastructure, and an open and outward looking economy, make it an attractive 'Gateway to Europe' for New Zealand companies.

Around 80 percent of Dutch exports go to other nations within the European Union (EU) and 70 percent of goods imported into the Netherlands come from the EU. Germany is the Netherlands' most significant export and import partner. The trade activity of the Netherlands is highly developed, with special focus on food processing, chemicals, oil refinery and electrical machinery.

Trade between the Netherlands and New Zealand is moderate, with the Netherlands ranked as New Zealand's 21st most significant bilateral trade partner. The Netherlands is the largest European investor in New Zealand, reflecting its strong agricultural traditions and the presence of important multinationals (e.g. Shell, Unilever, and Rabobank) in the Netherlands.

Facts about Netherlands' economy 

  • Nearly 80 percent of the Dutch workforce is engaged in the services sector in areas such as transportation, financial services (including banking and insurance), business services, and goods distribution.
  • Agriculture in the Netherlands is highly modernised and efficient, and the sector is still highly profitable. Although the sector employs a very low percentage of the work force, it produces large surpluses for export and ranks as the third highest worldwide in terms of agricultural exports.
  • The government does not discriminate between foreign and domestic companies, allowing foreign investors access to the same privileges and obligations as their Dutch counterparts. The Netherlands has also set up the Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency (NFIA), which aids and assists foreign firms to invest in the Netherlands.
  • There are currently more than 130,000 people of Dutch descent living in New Zealand.

Opportunities for New Zealand businesses

As a multilingual, internationally-focused, trading country with an excellent infrastructure, the Netherlands offers an excellent entry point for New Zealand business wanting to do business in Europe and even set up an operation in Europe.

There are good opportunities for New Zealand exports to the Netherlands in a number of sectors.


The Netherlands has one of Europe's largest biotechnology industries. The major biotechnology fields are human health (therapeutics, diagnostics and prevention), general (consisting of Biofine chemicals, equipment and the environment), and agri-food biotechnology (nutraceuticals, animal health, plants / seed, animal feed).

The Netherlands' strength in the areas of human health, ag-food biotechnology and research, the pro-international orientation of Dutch companies, and the fact that multinational pharmaceuticals are facing an 'innovation deficit', offers New Zealand companies opportunities to co-operate and form strategic alliances.

Recreational marine industry

The Netherlands is the fifth largest marine leisure market in Europe and one of the world's leading superyacht builders. The world's largest sail yachts are built in the Netherlands. Dutch yards account for roughly 20 percent (in value) of new superyacht construction globally, with superyacht exports from the Netherlands accounting for more than 75 percent of export business in the Dutch boatbuilding industry. The vast majority of Dutch boat builders focus on semi-custom displacement motoryachts up to 15 meters length, mainly made out of steel.

Organic products

Sales of organic food products in supermarkets and specialty shops in the Netherlands are continuing to grow steadily (5-10 percent per annum). Opportunities exist for New Zealand organics producers and potentially researchers.


New Zealand wine has established itself within the Netherlands, with growth likely to be based around increasing volumes of red varietals. Dutch wine consumption per capita is increasing, particularly among women, as a wine culture emerges and wine becomes more widely available in supermarkets. Although red wine is most popular, there is growing interest in white wines, especially in the summer months.

Dutch wine importers may re-export to other European markets, as well as supplying the domestic market.

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