The Dutch entrepreneurial spirit is born from the preference to work in partnership with governments, companies, and research and knowledge institutes, to create integrated joint solutions across sectors and borders. This approach, known as the “Triple Helix”, is proven to be successful. The Netherlands has a centuries-old tradition of doing business globally. Dutch society is based on building bridges, seeking consensus and ensuring alignment between the political, business and social arenas. As one of the twenty largest economies in the world and leader of the global knowledge economy, the Dutch have a natural drive to be explorative.
As one of the important economic partners of the Netherlands, Romania has a wealth of opportunities for building on the explorative and entrepreneurial spirit of Dutch businesses. The Netherlands retains its position as number 1 foreign investor in Romania. Nowadays, more than 5000 companies in Romania have Dutch capital, with investments summing more than €9,5 billion, according to the National Trade Register Office. In 2018, the Netherlands was the 8th trading partner of Romania for imports and 11th for exports. Bilateral trade between the two countries is summing up to €5 billion, 8% higher than 2017, of which exports from Romania to the Netherlands grew by 9,22% and imports from the Netherlands grew by 7,32%.
In light of the healthy economic relations between the two countries, on 17 and 18 April, the president of the Confederation of Netherlands Industry and Employers, VNO-NCW, Mr. Hans de Boer, visited Bucharest for a series of meetings with Government officials and the Dutch and Romanian business communities. He also gave a lecture at the Economic Studies Academy in front of students and members of the professors’ body.
Mr De Boer is the voice of Dutch businesses and has active ongoing contacts with the Dutch government about social-economic policies. The purpose of his visit was to discuss best options for investments focusing on intensifying the economic relations and collaboration between the two countries in various areas of common interest, such as agrifood, services and manufacturing. Along with Mr De Boer, a group of Dutch companies visited Bucharest. These companies are exploring business opportunities in Romania and had several match making meetings.
Mr De Boer shared his personal story with the students about how he started his first business, his successes and failures. Furthermore, he stressed the important function of companies in society: “A good private sector sustains society as a whole. The Netherlands has a very open society and a competitive economy. Companies ensure that taxes can be paid to guarantee a healthy society, which is essential for a competitive business climate.” What also helps the Netherlands, De Boer added, is the geographic position in Europe. “This position has contributed to our successful logistics sector: Rotterdam as the largest port in Europe, Amsterdam Schiphol as one of the largest airports in Europe and the Netherlands as a growing hub for data and infrastructure built by a vibrant ICT sector. Connectivity is important for a competitive economy.”
On agriculture, Mr De Boer mentioned that the Netherlands is the second largest exporter of agricultural goods worldwide. “We export value rather than volume, and in Romania it is more or less the other way around. In the Netherlands agriculture is high-tech on a limited space, in Romania it’s less high-tech and you have a lot of space. This means we can work together.”
Lastly, Mr De Boer focused on the European Union. He recognized the differences in history between Eastern and Western Europe, however, “the original mottos of the EU, peace and prosperity, are shared values.” He expressed his faith that, especially in a polarized world, Europe will remain a beacon of stability, prosperity and predictability.
The organization Mr De Boer leads, VNO-NCW, is the largest employers’ organization in the Netherlands, representing the interests of more than 185.000 member organizations, both at home and abroad. They cover almost all sectors of the economy, including more than 80% of all medium-sized companies in the Netherlands and nearly all of the larger, corporate institutions.