Deadline: 31 December 2020

Hundreds of British companies are trying to open a branch in the Nether-lands this year. By settling here, they want to maintain good access to the 446 million European consumers.

The Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency (NFIA) says it receives daily requests for information from British companies. According to the NFIA, the agency for foreign investments of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate, there are currently talks with more than 400 companies about their arrival in the Netherlands. “And that number will grow in the near future. The search in the Netherlands as a business location has been halted since March due to the corona virus, which has postponed investments, but now everyone feels the increasing time pressure, ” says Michiel Bakhuizen of the NFIA.
“Since the EU and the United Kingdom started negotiations again in the summer, demand has increased. Entrepreneurs are also seeing the progress of the negotiations and the approaching hard Brexit. ” They want to know which establishment requirements the Netherlands sets and what the employment laws are like.
The British are already formally out of the EU, but a transition period will apply until 31 December during which the United Kingdom is still seen as a member state in terms of trade. There are no adjusted border controls or import tariffs yet. But they will come. British companies are terrified that their products and services for the 446 million European consumers will be subject to high import tariffs and strict licensing next year if the EU and the UK do not reach an agreement in the coming weeks.

Two markets
Most of the companies making the crossing maintain an office in both the UK and the Netherlands, so that they are ready for two separate markets: one UK (with 66 million people) and one European. Many companies are also waiting. Investing in a European branch is expensive, especially now that corona has caused sales to drop in many sectors.
British companies that want to secure the EU market are happy to come to the Netherlands, says Bakhuizen. “The Netherlands is close by because of connections by train, boat and plane. Our culture is close to the UK, and we have a number of key sectors that fit well with the UK: IT, fintech, media companies, health technology. Companies like that are now the first to come to the Netherlands due to the impending closure. ” They want to be sure that they can still attract staff from different parts of the world, and that the permits to do business on the European market, already arranged.
According to Bakhuizen, the companies will let the size of their branches in the Netherlands depend on the outcome of the Brexit negotiations. “The coming months are so unpredictable. We don’t know whether we should free up all colleagues in the coming weeks for the British question or whether it will continue as it is now. ”
The NFIA does not have contact with every British company that wants to establish itself in the Netherlands. The agency says there are an unknown number of UK businesses setting up here unaided. According to a 2018 study by the Central Bureau of Statistics, there are about 1,400 British companies in the Netherlands that employ 122,000 people and generate a turnover of 58 billion euros.

Clingendael Institute
Last year, 78 British companies already came to the Netherlands. Since the Brexit referendum until the end of 2019, the NFIA has counted a total of 140 Brexit refugees who have created 4,200 new jobs and invested hundreds of millions of euros.
Several dozen companies have now been added. These are not only purely British companies. Companies that now serve Europe from Great Britain are also considering whether they would not be better off with a branch in the EU. At the end of 2019, Clingendael investigated 56 companies that moved their trade from the UK to the Netherlands, half of them were not originally British, but American or Japanese, for example.

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