The Netherlands reap Brexit dividend as UK uncertainty continues

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Hard Brexit, soft Brexit or no Brexit – it doesn’t seem to matter to the Dutch, at least from the economic point of view.

In February, the Economic Affairs Ministry said that 42 companies had relocated to the Netherlands in 2018, largely due to Brexit uncertainty. Another 250 predominantly British companies are lined up to move there this year. To put things in perspective: in 2017, only 18 companies moved to the Netherlands for Brexit-related reasons.

Among the companies who have already moved to the Netherlands are Sony, Discovery Channel, and Bloomberg. Others include Japanese investment bank Norinchukin, financial services providers MarketAxess and Azimo, media company TVT Media, and maritime insurer UK P&I Club.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA), the EU’s regulator for pharmaceuticals, recently abandoned its London headquarters for new offices in Amsterdam, a move entirely based on Brexit.

The Dutch government said most of the companies involved were British, though some were American or Asian firms are considering changes to their organisations in the EU as well.

"North American companies choose to invest in the Netherlands to capitalise on our country's economic stability, highly educated and multilingual workforce, world-class infrastructure and strong environment for technology and innovation," said Henny Jacobs, Executive Director of the Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency for the Americas. "We are a beacon of trust as a gateway to Europe."

Eric Wiebes, Netherlands Minister of Economic Affairs & Climate Policy said: “Due to the growing international uncertainty surrounding Brexit and changing global trade policies, the importance of a good Dutch business climate for all of us is continually increasing.”

"The impending Brexit and tensions around international trade provide opportunities for Dutch companies," said Sigrid Kaag, Netherlands Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation. "Our companies are innovative, flexible and adapt to this changing market. Furthermore, the Netherlands' position as a stable economic hub is also attractive to foreign companies."

Next to finance, media and healthcare companies, logistics companies in particular, are moving their office to the Netherlands. Known for its excellent logistics hubs and infrastructure, connecting the UK and continental Europe, this is not surprising.

The Port of Rotterdam aims to be the port that’s best prepared for Brexit, and Amsterdam Schiphol Airport is – after London Heathrow and Paris Charles de Gaulle – Europe’s largest airport in passenger numbers. In 2018, international air freight grew 9.9 percent.

With previous media reports about the country’s Brexit preparations in the area of customs - including both system preparations and hiring of new customs staff - having been published some time ago already, it seems the Netherlands is currently the most ready-for-Brexit country in Europe. As latest developments prove, the business community has noticed as well and taken measures. It’s high time for us in the UK to get a move on – both in terms official developments and in light of business readiness.

Iqubal Singh Pannu

Iqubal Singh Pannu is Senior Solutions Consultant at AEB in the UK and has been with the company since 2006. With considerable consultancy and project management experience, spanning several areas of the supply chain, Iqubal is advising companies on solutions for optimising supply chain performance and generating value through automated global trade and logistics processes.

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