The Netherlands is a country unique in many respects. It has the most land reclaimed from sea. It has the most land below sea level. The landscape of this country is also mostly flat with no mountains. There are not many countries with a dense population like the Netherlands. There are not many countries with so much water, wind, boats, bikes, birds, dykes, polders, windmills, flowers, fish, bridges, cafes, cheese and tall people. And there are not certainly many countries who can claim a vibrant orange colour as their own. Start with its cities. Who has not heard Amsterdam, the capital of culture, coffee shops and canals. Its beauty is hard to overestimate, and yet surfeits of stunning metropoles are only minutes away. Outside the cities, the Netherlands borders on over achievement. Its national parks and sheep patrolled polders are complimented by lakes, sandy coastline and a chain of wind swept islands. Like other northern Europeans, the Dutch tend to be logical rather than emotional. They hold strong opinions and freely express them. For the most part they have a “no nonsense” attitude. When speaking, they tend to be direct and literal. They may come across as somewhat insensitive, obstinate or normally righteous. In fact they are the most tolerant and liberal minded people in the world. Despite their affluence, they are inclined to be thrifty or frown on those who flaunt their wealth. Hence, the term was coined, “going Dutch”.

Basic Facts:

•    Full Name: The Kingdom of the Netherlands

•    Capital: Amsterdam; Seat of Government; The Hague

•    Type of Government: Constitutional Monarchy; Parliamentary emocracy

    Area: 41,864 Square Kilometre

    Population: 16.7 million

    Language: Dutch

    Life expectancy: 79 years (men), 83 years (women)

•    Per capital GDP: US$ 51,410

•    GDP: US$ 832,160 billion

•    Monetary Unit: 1 Euro = 100 cents

The Economy:

The Netherlands has a prosperous and open economy, which depends heavily on of foreign trade. The economy is noted for stable industrial relations, fairly low unemployment and inflation, a sizeable current account surplus and an important role as European transportation hub.Industrial activity is predominantly in food processing, chemicals, petroleum refining and electrical machinery. A highly mechanized agricultural sector employs no more than 2% of the labour force but provides large surplus for food processing and for exports. The Netherlands, along with 11 EU partners adopted Euro as common currency on January 1, 2002. The country is one of the leading European nations for attracting foreign direct investment.  

  The people of the Netherlands have always been known for their trading acumen, more than manufacturing. In the era referred to as the Dutch Golden Age, colonies and trading posts were established all over the globe. The Dutch East India Company was the world’s largest commercial enterprise in the 17th century. In fact the trading tradition continues even today. Dutch traders can be seen dealing in all trading fairs and other marketing events. Almost two/ third portion of GDP arises out of the trading activity.     As one of the most open economy in the world, the Netherlands is particularly vulnerable to the developments in the global economy. The global financial and economic crises had a deep impact on the Dutch economy due to its trade and financial linkage. As such it could not emerge unscathed out of 2008 global financial crises. However, it recovered quite quickly and the negative indicators like unemployment (4.5% in 2010), budget deficit (5.4% in 2010) are expected to improve in the short term. The crisis was managed through government incentives programme. On the sideline, the subsequent breakdown in the euro area (Greece, Iceland, etc) has caused a slow down in the recovery process.

Pakistan Netherlands Cooperation:

    Pakistan and Netherlands have always enjoyed good bilateral relations. The Development Cooperation relations have continued since 1962. This stable relationship reflects Pakistan’s status in the Dutch Development Cooperation Programme as it is one of 10 countries with which the Netherlands cooperate most closely. Pakistan and Netherlands have agreed and signed a number of bilateral agreements. However, notable for trade and industry is the “Agreement on Avoidance of Double Taxation” which was signed on March 24, 1982. According to it, the income occurring is to be taxed at its origin and not again on repatriation.

Pakistan Netherlands Business Forum (PNBF)

    Pakistan Netherlands Business Forum (PNBF) has signed a memorandum of understanding with Nederland’s Pakistaanse Business Council (NPBC) to facilitate promotional activities in trade, investment, technology transfer, services and other business areas of mutual interest. According to the MOU, the two bodies agreed to promote market and business related information; to strengthen business contacts through organizing events such as conferences, seminars, study tours, trade fairs, exhibitions, exchange of trade and investment missions; disseminate information pertaining to business  proposals in the field of foreign trade, industrial/ commercial and technological cooperation as well as investment opportunities; to organize on a regular basis information seminars to be followed by company to company contacts as well as sectoral partnerships; to promote joint ventures partnerships; etc.

Bilateral trade in 2010:

    The Netherlands and Pakistan have remained engaged in bilateral trade since long. In the year 2010, Pakistan exported goods worth US$ 409 million to the Netherlands. These goods mainly consisted of textiles, leather, sugar & sugar confectionary, sports goods, etc. In return Pakistan imported goods worth US$ 345 million from the Netherlands mainly comprising floating structures, articles of iron and steel, machinery and electrical equipment, plastics and chemicals. The trade balance between the two countries has remained more or less balanced over its history. In fact both the economies compliment each other in trade instead of competition. As Pakistan gears up for international trade, the Netherlands has shown interest for investment in the agriculture and food processing sectors.

Opportunities for Pakistan:

    The opportunities for Pakistan industrial and trading sectors are essentially two fold. Firstly, in their bid to enhance knowledge and technical capability they can find a willing Dutch industry to become partners in any joint venture. Secondly, a number of Dutch government and private sector initiatives can be utilized for entering the Dutch market and through it to EU market, for export of non-traditional products form Pakistan. The Dutch trading culture can be capitalized by otherwise inward looking Pakistani manufacturers to create export opportunities for it.