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The Dutch are characterised by their open, down-to-earth mindset and tolerance. Communication is direct and clear. Where the English would politely reply ‘quite interesting’, the Dutch will provide their honest opinion. The Dutch like participation. They wish to be seen as a partner at an equal level, and are committed to democracy and consensus. This may take some getting used to; however, you always understand what your trade partner is about.
The Dutch have excellent labour morale, working hard, driven, motivated. This is definitely a factor in the high labour productivity. Furthermore, the Dutch have a knowledge economy with think tanks and a high number of highly educated people. Themes such as development and innovation are a key focus, both in the private and public sectors. This provides numerous business opportunities.
Most people have no problem speaking, reading and writing English, with school children often learning up to three foreign languages. No one is at all surprised if you do not speak Dutch, which makes the country highly accessible.
In addition to an open attitude, the Netherlands also has a favourable economic, legal, financial and tax climate for establishing businesses. The favourable international trade agreements contribute to flourishing imports and exports. The Netherlands is part of the EU, which provides an opportunity to make use of unrestricted trading on the European market.
The free pioneering spirit of the individual is set off by a rather emotional group spirit, driven to take care of one another based on collectivity. This is also reflected in most of the country’s laws and regulations and the unions, which traditionally support the rights of both employers and employees. Depending on the political colours of the day, themes centre in turn on individual freedom and on collectivity.
A verbal commitment is a legal agreement according to Dutch law. That implies that you are able to conclude a deal before placing your signature underneath a purchase agreement. Many foreigners are not aware of this type of ‘pre-contractual obligations’. This is why it is sensible to always involve a local expert in your negotiations.
In legal terms, a local partner is not required. However, experience shows that in the Netherlands, starting up a company without local expertise in terms of market, culture, legislation and business environment, is virtually impossible.