"Successful export model requires stronger growth outside Western Europe"

"ING: "Dutch export less future proof than neighbouring countries"

The Dutch export to growing countries outside Western European is increasing, but lags behind neighbouring countries Belgium and Germany. The strong Dutch role of supplying country for Western Europe is no longer a guarantee for success for the future. Furthermore, the current imbalance between supply and delivery leads to inefficiencies in transport and higher costs, which is detrimental to the competitive edge. In order to improve the balance, the Netherlands would have to evolve from 'Gateway to Europe' to 'Gateway to the World', according to a report from the ING Economic Bureau.

Different reasons to break with traditional export pattern
Traditionally, the Netherlands has had a strong export position. At the same time, Dutch companies still think too much in traditional patterns and routes, due to which trade is focused too unilaterally on Western Europe. Belgium and Germany develop better in this respect, which can be seen in the sea ports. In addition to stronger growth outside Western Europe and inefficiencies in transport, changes in flows of goods through the energy transition, 3D printing and new railway connections with China are reason to expand the Dutch export position.

Growth has to come from exporters
Acceleration in export growth to countries beyond Western Europe needs to come from Dutch exporters, but then they will have to make establishing new networks between buyers and purchasers a priority. Logistically speaking, there's no reason to lag behind neighbouring countries. It does take time to evolve from 'Gateway to Europe' to 'Gateway to the World' though.

Marieke Blom, chief economist ING Netherlands: 'In order to make our position as a trading nation future proof and to become more competitive, the export role will have to be expanded. It's important to prepare for this by putting it on the agenda now.'

Two routes to becoming export country
There are two routes to becoming more of an export country: By drawing more business from Western Europe, the Netherlands can bring more Europe to the world, and secondly, by bringing more Dutch products to the emerging countries in the world. The Netherlands can learn from neighbouring countries in that, but also from own experiences. Recommendations for policy focused on this:
  • Make it more attractive for (trading) companies with a global focus to set up shop here.
  • Promote Dutch ports with Western European exporters as 'Gateway to the World' instead of Gateway to Europe, and help making new contacts in new networks, and setting up physical connections.
  • Make use of the advantages of inland shipping, without forgetting the quality of the railway network. Competing German ports make much more use of rail roads.
  • Make for a strong manufacturing industry as an own export product.
  • Learn from the agricultural sector. This is a frontrunner in terms of export beyond Western Europe, with a remarkably better spread export package than average.
More information:
ING Economic Bureau
Marieke Blom
T: +31(0)6 539 04 531
E: Marieke.Blom@ing.nl

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