Economic diplomacy

Many Dutch entrepreneurs and researchers work abroad and invest abroad, and many foreign companies also invest in the Dutch economy. Commerce and investment lead to growth and create jobs. The Dutch government strives to increase opportunities for Dutch entrepreneurs on foreign markets.

The government wants to achieve this through a new policy for international enterprise that responds more effectively to the needs of businesses. The main element of this policy is that there will be fewer subsidies, while efforts will be concentrated in economic diplomacy.

The government also wishes to help SME start-ups to operate on the international market. Policy will be developed in close cooperation with business.

Top sectors

The government will focus primarily on strengthening the international market position of Dutch entrepreneurs operating in the top sectors of energy, the creative industry, life sciences, logistics, horticulture and propagation materials, high tech, water, agri-food and chemicals.

Efforts will be made attract foreign companies and top talent to the Netherlands, as they also provide an important stimulus to the Dutch knowledge economy.

Menu of options

The government will present a menu of options offering entrepreneurs the choice of various instruments, so responding to their specific requirements. The options available vary from information about complex, emerging markets to advice and assistance, trade missions and promotion activities.

From subsidies to loans

As of 2012 subsidies will be cut and if possible loans will be offered instead. The Package4Growth scheme that supports SMEs in their activities in China and India will therefore be stopped. The current subsidy scheme will be replaced by an investment facility.

Start-ups abroad

SMEs wishing to start activities abroad can obtain various types of assistance. Basic information about different countries is free and available from various sources including NL Agency. In 2012, enterprise centres (ondernemerspleinen) will be established, offering entrepreneurs a single point of contact  to access extensive information from network partners and market parties.

For information and advice about trade with neighbouring countries such as Germany and France, entrepreneurs can also make use of the international network of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, including the Netherlands Business Support Offices.

International network

Economic relationships in the world are constantly shifting due to various factors, including the emergence of markets such as India, Turkey, Brazil, Russia and China. In these countries the government often still plays a decisive role in daily economic life.

The Dutch government wants to promote the interests of Dutch businesses abroad through economic diplomacy. The Netherlands has an extensive international network of missions (in Dutch) to promote the interests of Dutch businesses abroad. These include embassies, consulates and the Netherlands Business Support Offices.  

Staff from these missions make contact with overseas governments to address issues such as market access and restrictive rules and regulations. The Dutch government will also use agricultural counsellors to support exporting companies from the agri-food top sector.

Cooperation between government and sector organisations

Government and industry work together to support Dutch enterprises abroad. There is a clear division of roles in this partnership: if the enterprise is able to offer good quality at reasonable prices then the government does not need to act. However, if Dutch companies abroad encounter trade barriers then the government will make every effort to provide assistance.