Minister Bleker: Make emerging economies a priority for trade and investment

Dutch Minister for Agriculture and Foreign Trade Henk Bleker believes that Dutch companies could invest more in emerging economies. "The Netherlands excels in imports and exports. But when it comes to emerging economies, we're falling behind and we can do better. The BRIC markets – Brazil, Russia, India, and China – can absorb part of the decline we're seeing in European markets."

In addition, Minister Bleker would like to focus on the needs of businesses for support in BRIC markets. "I will continue to work to open doors for Dutch business; next week, I will be in Brazil. I have understood from the business community that this is especially important for doing business with the BRIC countries because the government still plays a major role in the economies there."

Consumer goods from China

Of all the emerging economies, the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) are the most well-known. Their economic growth remains strong, even as western growth slows. New figures from CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis show that the BRIC countries together account for 24% of the world's combined gross national product. Dutch trade with BRIC nations has doubled in the past 10 years: In 2000, exports to BRIC countries was 1.8% of total exports, while in 2010, it had risen to 4%. Imports to BRIC countries have grown even faster and now represent nearly 16% of all Dutch imports. This figure has more than doubled since 2000, an increase which is primarily due to growth in consumer goods from China.

100,000 jobs

At 28 billion Euros, Dutch investment in BRIC countries is substantial, certainly in comparison with investment levels of other European countries. On the other hand, BRIC countries invest relatively little in the Netherlands: 1.8 billion Euros. Approximately 100,000 Dutch jobs are directly related to trade with BRIC countries. Direct investment by BRIC countries also creates jobs in the Netherlands. For example, the number of Chinese companies in the Port of Rotterdam has doubled over the past few years. Some 30,000 employees in the Netherlands work for investors from BRIC countries.

Language, culture, and bureaucracy

Companies with no experience in trading with or investing in a BRIC country can sometimes be daunted by the idea of the potential barriers posed by language, culture, and bureaucracy in the BRIC countries. A study by Ape Research and Consultancy Bureau into why business owners did or did not choose to do business with BRIC countries revealed that 18% of the business owners surveyed were wary of trade barriers such as high import and export duties, and were also concerned about domestic businesses being given preferential treatment over Dutch businesses.

Embassies support business owners

The Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation encourages the private sector to trade with and invest in emerging economies. The embassies in these countries focus more on supporting businesses and in 2012, all BRIC trade missions will be carried out in all BRIC countries, and both large and small companies, primarily from the Dutch top sectors, will be invited to join the delegation. The Netherlands boasts a strong agriculture sector, for example, as well as water, logistics, energy, and high tech. In these areas, the Dutch have global ambitions. At the same time, the government encourages investment in the Netherlands by BRIC countries, for example by promoting the country as a prime location for international business headquarters.

International businesses shine

Our national economy is internationally oriented. In the Netherlands, that is a precondition for a prosperous, sustainable, and enterprising country. The country's international businesses are the stars of the Dutch economy. Although they only represent 7% of the total number of businesses in the Netherlands, exporting companies are responsible for 44% of the country's jobs and 87% of its spending on research and development.