Why invest in the Netherlands

Why invest in the Netherlands?

A pro-business climate, its strategic location, a stable legislative system, a highly educated multilingual workforce and superior infrastructure are just some of the many advantages of doing business in the Netherlands. These elements show, in our view, that the Netherlands serves as the (digital) gateway to Europe. 

Economic overview

Excellent country for business and a great place to live

As stated by the World Competitiveness Ranking 2023 of the Institute for Management Development, the Netherlands is the 5th most competitive economy in the world. The Netherlands stands as a premier destination for business activity, offering a very competitive international climate. The Netherlands excels in both business efficiency and infrastructure, with a particularly strong performance in business efficiency-related key indicators labour market and finance and in technological infrastructure.

Dutch regions also demonstrate high levels of competitiveness within the EU. According to the EU Regional Competitiveness Index of 2022, an impressive 5 of the top 10 most competitive regions in the EU are in the Netherlands. The Index measures the ability of a region to offer an attractive and sustainable environment for firms and residents to live and work.  

With its strategic location at Europe's front door, the Netherlands offers a perfect starting point for accessing the European market. 95 per cent of Europe’s most lucrative consumer markets within 24 hours reach of Amsterdam or Rotterdam. The Netherlands also boasts a supportive legal and tax structure to set up operational business, a highly educated, multilingual workforce and superior logistics and technology infrastructure. It is no wonder that numerous multinational businesses – from small and mid-sized to Fortune 500 leaders – have chosen the Netherlands as their gateway to Europe.

Aside from its outstanding business climate, the Netherlands offers an affordable cost of living and a superior quality of life. Ranked as the number 5 in the United Nations World Happiness Report 2023, the country has a high standard of living. According to the OECD Better Life Index, which compares countries in the areas of material living conditions and quality of life, the Netherlands scores particularly high on the dimensions: jobs, life satisfaction, work-life balance and civic engagement. 

Furthermore, the Netherlands has a highly effective government and performs well on regulatory quality (ability of the government to formulate and implement sound policies and regulations that permit and promote private sector development) as indicated by Worldwide Governance Indicators data of the World Bank.

The Netherlands also offers a wide tax treaty network, competitive tax system and certainty in advance of interpretation of tax law for sound business cases, including those related to the new global minimum tax Act (often referred to as Pillar 2) - just a few of the features that help multinational companies to thrive in the Netherlands. 

Talent and workforce of the future

Workforce in the Netherlands

The Netherlands is home to a diverse, highly educated, digitally skilled, flexible and multilingual workforce. The country is internationally recognised as a global top performer in talent competitiveness: it holds the 5th position in the Global Talent Competitiveness Index 2023, which assesses the ability of countries and cities to nurture, attract, and retain talent.

The Netherlands stands out on growing and enabling talent. Contributing factors to its high ranking on growing talent are the high quality of the tertiary education, high scores on formal education and lifelong learning and the widespread use of virtual networks. Furthermore, the Netherlands' highly favourable business and labour landscape and advantageous regulatory and market circumstances boost the country's ability to enable talent.

In a survey conducted by Eurostat the Netherlands ranks as the highest performing country in the EU with respect to the digital skills of its inhabitants. While 83 per cent of the Dutch citizens has at least basic overall digital skills, 54 per cent has above basic skills. Also, according to the EF English Proficiency Index 2023 the Dutch, for the fifth time in a row, are ranked as the best non-native English speakers in the world.

The Dutch higher education system is made up of world-class universities and educational institutions. The close collaboration between the Dutch government, knowledge institutions, the industry/private sector and other parties, strongly supports the country to stay talent-competitive in the future. 

The Netherlands has a strong labour market. Many people are employed and labour productivity is high, largely as a result of the country’s high standard of education and training, pragmatic labour laws and commitment to IT investment. In addition, thanks to the stability of the Dutch government's pragmatic approach to business, very little time is lost to labour disputes or labour relations compared to Europe as a whole.

According to the European Union Labour Force Survey 2022, the Netherlands scores well on lifelong learning. The government of the Netherlands is highly dedicated to promoting lifelong learning and development. In September 2022, it presented lifelong learning policies to the House of Representatives, emphasising the importance of fostering a culture of continuous learning and development. The goal is to create a labour market that is well-equipped for the future, where employees are encouraged to continually enhance their skills throughout their lives. To achieve these ambitions, the government is providing substantial support to lifelong learning initiatives, with a significant investment of approximately 1.2 billion euros between 2022 and 2027.

As an internationally oriented country the Netherlands strongly appeals to international talent and therefore is home to many foreign workers. It offers a ‘Highly Skilled Migrant Visa’, which allows companies to bring highly qualified expats to their Dutch operations.

Diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I)

Company initiatives around culture, value and purpose will be critical for shaping the future of work. As the expectations of employees, customers, and investors continue to evolve, organisations are making significant investments in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) programs. By doing so, they aim to not only increase engagement with these stakeholders, but also improve financial performance and foster innovation. 

Inclusive organisations with a diverse composition of employees increase stakeholder engagement and operate more effectively. Teams with a diverse composition - where everyone can be themselves - perform better and are more innovative.

The Dutch government strives to protect and promote human rights, such as equality, non-discrimination, freedom of speech and freedom of sexual orientation, both at home and abroad. It is also committed to promoting diversity, equity and inclusion within organisations. Partly thanks to the global call for social justice, planning new DE&I initiatives have become a high priority at a growing number of organisations and in the Netherlands. 

Innovation and incentives

Part of the Dutch DNA

The Netherlands is considered a global frontrunner in innovation. According to the Global Innovation Index 2023 by the World Intellectual Property Organization, it excels in multiple aspects of innovation, such as entrepreneurship policies and culture, government effectiveness, finance for startups and scaleups, knowledge-intensive employment, university-industry collaboration, and intellectual property payments. In terms of innovation outputs, the Netherlands particularly stands out in the areas of knowledge creation, knowledge diffusion, and online creativity.

Dutch industry comprises numerous innovative and knowledge-intensive companies that enjoy a strong reputation worldwide and actively involved in extensive R&D efforts. Moreover, the Netherlands is home to several highly successful and innovative clusters, including agrifood, life sciences & health, high-tech systems, chemicals, clean energy, IT, and creative industries. 

Stimulating Foreign Investment and Entrepreneurship

With a competitive corporate income tax rate in Europe – 19 per cent on the first 200,000 euro and 25.8 per cent for taxable profits exceeding 200,000 euro – as well as a number of attractive incentive programs, the Netherlands offers a supportive fiscal climate for international companies. 

The Netherlands actively promotes engaging in R&D activities through a favourable corporate tax structure and specific R&D tax incentives to stimulate innovation.

We will elaborate on the Dutch incentives and taxes later on.

Digital transformation

The Netherlands is among the leaders in digital transformation, both within Europe and on a global scale. According to the EU report on the State of the Digital Decade 2023, the country has a leading position on digital skills, digital infrastructure and digitalisation of businesses and public services. Furthermore, Dutch consumers often lead the way in adopting innovative digital applications.

The Netherlands is a prominent player in various digital technology fields. It is at the forefront of quantum technology, hosts Europe's largest security cluster, and boasts one of the most advanced data centre operations markets in Europe. Additionally, it is a hotspot for companies involved in the global gaming industry, encompassing both serious and entertainment gaming. The country is also a leader in E-health solutions and is home to numerous artificial intelligence (AI) innovators. 

Recognising the significance of artificial intelligence, the Dutch government launched the Strategic Action Plan for AI in 2019 to maintain its position as a frontrunner in this field. 

To expedite the adoption of AI, the Netherlands is proactively facilitating cross-industry collaboration. The NL AI Coalition (NL AIC), formed in 2019, brings together Dutch research institutes, companies, and public organisations with the aim to put the Netherlands in a frontrunner position in terms of AI knowledge and applications. The coalition has set up the AiNed programme to further increase its impact by helping Dutch companies and public institutions take essential steps with AI. The Dutch growth fund has allocated a budget of 204,5 million euro to the first phase of the AiNed programme. The closely connected Innovation Center for Artificial Intelligence (ICAI) complements the NLAIC. ICAI plays a vital role in facilitating and coordinating activities among around 50 AI innovation labs throughout the Netherlands. 

The world’s first AI regulation, the EU Artificial Intelligence Act (AI Act), that was adopted in June 2023, will likely come into force in 2024. The act is an important step towards responsible use of AI, ensuring that AI companies leveraging advanced Dutch capabilities are well-equipped for the future.

In November 2022 the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy launched the Strategy Digital Economy for the period until 2030 with the ambition to realise a resilient, entrepreneurial, innovative and sustainable digital economy, in which everyone in the Netherlands can participate. 

To realise this ambition the Dutch government commits itself to five priorities: accelerating digitisation of SMEs, creating the right conditions for well-functioning digital markets and services, maintaining and strengthening a secure, reliable and high-quality digital infrastructure, strengthening cybersecurity and boosting digital innovation and skills. Digital innovation will be stimulated by investing publicly-privately in conditions for cloud applications and in digital technologies, such as artificial intelligence, quantum, blockchain and 5/6G.

Sustainable economy

Towards a circular economy

In terms of circular material use, the Netherlands stands out as the clear leader in the European Union. In 2022 the Netherlands achieved a circular material use rate of 27.5 per cent, followed by Belgium and France, with respectively 22.2 per cent and 19.3 per cent.

In the past few years, there has been a significant rise in the focus on the circular economy, and the Netherlands is no exception. The Dutch government aims for a fully circular economy by 2050. To achieve this, it works with industry, knowledge institutions, civil-society organisations and other authorities. In 2023 the government has presented the National Circular Economy Programme 2023-2030 outlines the necessary measures to realise a fully circular Dutch economy by 2050. Aim of the plan is to reduce the consumption of primary raw materials by half in 2030.

In addition to implementing general and specific measures, the Dutch government is taking various measures to promote the circular economy. For instance, it seeks to increase knowledge and skills through education and offering short courses for professionals. It will also offer support by providing funding, promoting behavioural change, The Circular Netherlands Accelerator! Initiative and regional circular economy networks.

Accelerating the global energy transition

The Netherlands has set ambitious goals for sustainable energy generation. According to the National Climate Agreement of 2019, by 2030, 70 per cent of electricity and at least 27 per cent of all energy used must come from renewable sources. The European Climate Act, which came into effect on July 29, 2021, has further strengthened greenhouse gas emission reduction targets for the European Union. As a result, the Netherlands is required to implement additional measures to transition to renewable energy. In line with the European Climate Act, the Dutch coalition agreement, presented in December 2021, commits to tightening the climate targets in the Dutch Climate Act. The new target is to achieve a 55 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions by 2030. To support these efforts, the Dutch government has announced the creation of a 35 billion euros climate and transition fund. This fund will be used for sustainability measures in industry, mobility, the built environment, and clean energy infrastructure. 

The Netherlands has a top position in renewable energy R&D, particularly in wind turbine technology. It is home to various major international offshore wind energy initiatives and is planning to double its production of offshore wind energy by 2030. In the last few years, the country has also emerged as the leading solar power player in Europe when it comes to the number of panels per capita. Furthermore, it is one of the world’s leading countries with respect to the adoption of electric vehicles and in 2022 was home to the largest number of public charging points in the EU.

The Netherlands is at the forefront of innovation in the fields of green hydrogen, battery, and smart-grid energy technologies. To accelerate the production and utilisation of (low carbon) hydrogen, the Dutch government has embraced a comprehensive hydrogen strategy. The National Hydrogen Program (Nationaal Waterstof Programma) is playing a crucial role in driving the adoption of hydrogen across various sectors. 

The Netherlands also offers outstanding energy related R&D facilities and incentive programs that support and stimulate innovation.

Gateway to Europe

A superior logistic and technology infrastructure

According to the DHL Global Connectedness Index 2022 the Netherlands is world’s most globally connected country in the world. The country has maintained a strong position at the top of the index thanks to its unique combination of favourable geography, strong regional integration with neighbouring countries, the attractiveness of its domestic market and a long tradition of embracing international trade and relations. Supported by world-class seaports and airports, an extensive network of roads, rail, and waterways, as well as a telecommunications network that is globally recognised for its exceptional quality, speed, and reliability, the Dutch infrastructure is regarded as one of the best in the world.

Benefiting from its robust logistics infrastructure and strategically positioned in the heart of the European Union, the Netherlands offers companies a unique access to the continent and beyond. Whether by rail, road, or water, businesses can efficiently reach a market of 170 million consumers within a 24-hour radius of Amsterdam or Rotterdam. 

Furthermore, the Dutch dense, high-quality telecommunications infrastructure offers fast connections. With a 98 per cent fast broadband coverage and a 99 per cent 4G coverage, the country is the digital gateway to Europe. The Netherlands directly links continental Europe to North America, with most transatlantic sea cables going directly to the Netherlands. Moreover, the Netherlands is home to the Amsterdam Internet Exchange (AMS-IX), one of the largest hubs for internet traffic in the world.

PwC the Netherlands, supported by the strong EU Direct Tax Group network of EU colleagues, aims to provide a coordinated support for non-EU clients to navigate through the complex EU tax and legal landscape. At the same time, it supports other EU colleagues on Dutch related topics in their relationship with non-EU clients and colleagues. Furthermore, PwC the Netherlands takes a proactive role in informing clients on important EU tax law/EU27 domestic developments through the monthly EU Gateway newsletter, becoming by this way the EU first point of contact for non-EU clients and colleagues.   

Business Operations


Strategically located at the heart of Europe’s largest markets, the Netherlands has established itself as a magnet for international companies and a prominent choice for establishing European or regional headquarters. With its strong international orientation, pro-business environment, highly educated workforce and its top logistics and technology infrastructure and innovation ecosystem the Netherlands offers companies a perfect climate to compete successfully in Europe. As one of the European Union's most dynamic trading and industrial centres, the Netherlands serves as an excellent gateway to Europe for numerous international companies.

Logistics and distribution

The Dutch transport and logistics infrastructure, including world-class seaports, centrally located airports and an extensive, modern network of roads and highways is a major asset to companies looking to establish international logistics/distribution operations in Europe. Amsterdam Airport Schiphol one of Europe's best-connected airports (Airports Council International, 2023) and one of the largest cargo airports in Europe. The Port of Rotterdam is the largest seaport in Europe and the world’s largest seaport outside of East Asia. Moreover, the Netherlands also houses numerous top-grade logistic service providers.

These and other factors make the Netherlands a genuine gateway to Europe, hosting a wide range of European and regional distribution centres across various industries such as agri/food, fashion, high-tech, medical technology, e-commerce, and spare parts logistics.


Renowned internationally for its open culture and emphasis on entrepreneurship and innovation, the Netherlands is home to a thriving, collaborative startup ecosystem. The Netherlands is one of the leading European countries for startups and Amsterdam occupies 3rd place in Europe in Startup Genome’s Global Startup Ecosystem Report 2023. According to Startup Genome, Amsterdam startups have access to impressive levels of investment, dedicated, high-quality startup support, a supportive established startup scene, and a talent pool filled with inventive and skilled workers.

Under conditions, the Dutch startup visa scheme makes it possible to apply for a temporary residence permit as 'start-up', which gives ambitious starters one year to get their innovative business started.

Research and development

The Netherlands is a thriving hub for R&D activities, thanks to its outstanding research institutes, supportive R&D tax credits, and strategic partnerships between science, industry, and government.

The country is one of the innovation leaders in the EU, with a 4th position on the 2023 European Innovation Scoreboard of the EU Commission. As the European R&D location of various major multinationals, the Netherlands has the 4th highest number of European patent applications per million inhabitants (2022, European Patent Office). Also, the flourishing startup scene results in many patents every year.

The Netherlands is home to numerous innovation hubs spread across the country, including ten campuses. These campuses, such as High Tech Campus Eindhoven, TU Delft Campus, Kennispark Twente, Wageningen Campus, Amsterdam Science Park and Campus Groningen, bring together a diverse range of companies and knowledge institutes.


The Netherlands has a skilled engineering workforce and advanced collaborative networks of suppliers in a wide variety of value chains. These factors present significant advantages to companies looking to establish or reshore manufacturing operations in Europe. 

Major multinationals in a wide range of industries have already established advanced manufacturing operations in the Netherlands - from life sciences to chemicals, maritime industry and IT.

In its strategic and green industrial policy presented in July 2022, the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy stresses the importance of the industrial sector in the Netherlands. The government wants the Netherlands to become a leader in making industry more sustainable and realising the solutions needed to achieve this, such as technological innovation and a circular economy. For stimulating innovation and scaling up (green) technology within industry, the Dutch government has freed up billions of euros, through funds for tailor-made agreements for CO2 reduction and innovation in SMEs (3 billion euro) and the National Growth Fund (20 billion euro in total). 


Positioned at the front door of Europe, the Netherlands provides an excellent base for businesses looking to grow within the European market. Its status as a top-tier business hub is further enhanced by various world-leading industry clusters that reinforce the Netherlands' role as a dynamic engine of economic activity and make a crucial contribution to its economic growth. From life sciences and health to creative industries, the Netherlands hosts successful industry clusters that harness the strength of the private sector alongside strong knowledge institutions and thrive on talent, innovation, and collaboration. Some of the largest and rapidly expanding companies in every industry have selected the Netherlands as their entry point to the European market.

We elaborate on some of the key industries below. 

Key industries:


  • Second largest exporter of agrifood products worldwide, after the U.S.
  • 122.3 billion euro agricultural exports, 16.7 per cent of total Dutch exports
  • Production and R&D facilities of the top 10 agrifood companies worldwide
  • 8th place on the global Food Sustainability Index of the Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition Foundation
  • Best global university for agricultural sciences - category agriculture and forestry (Wageningen University) according to QS World University Rankings 2023


  • The Netherlands ranks 1st on the DHL Global Connectedness Index (2022)
  • The Netherlands is known for its excellent knowledge of logistics, innovative transport and logistics concepts and chain management
  • The quality of Dutch infrastructure is among the best in the world
  • Over 1,000 American and Asian companies have centralised their European distribution activities in the Netherlands
  • Rotterdam is the maritime capital of Europe and the world’s 11th largest container port (2022)
  • The Netherlands has the largest inland shipping fleet in Europe
  • Schiphol is one of Europe’s busiest airports by passenger traffic and 4th on the list of Europe’s largest cargo airports


  • Top position in renewable energy R&D, particularly in wind turbine technology
  • Home to various major international offshore wind energy initiatives
  • Leading solar power player in Europe based on the number of panels per capita
  • At the forefront of innovation in the fields of green hydrogen, battery, and smart-grid energy technologies.
  • The Netherlands offers outstanding energy related R&D facilities and incentive programs that support and stimulate innovation
  • Home to some of the world’s best engineering talent in the energy sector
  • One of the world’s leading countries with respect to the adoption of electric vehicles
  • The Dutch government has adopted a hydrogen strategy to boast production and use of hydrogen
  • Occupies the 9th position on the global WEF Energy Transition Index 

Creative Industries

  • Renowned internationally for its entrepreneurial spirit and out-of-the-box thinking
  • One of the world’s most multicultural hubs for creative talent
  • Home to a thriving creative industry for fashion, advertising, entertainment and media and architecture
  • The Netherlands has more than 30 Dutch knowledge institutions offering Creative Arts and Design courses.
  • A global hub for media and broadcasting, housing many of the industry’s biggest players
  • One of the largest exporters of television formats globally

High Tech Systems

  • World leader in the development of new technologies and materials for use in communication systems, aircraft and automobiles, medical devices, energy generation and semiconductor production
  • Stands out in aerospace and automotive (EV) tech, high tech manufacturing, robotics, quantum technology, semiconductor technology, nanotechnology and photonics.
  • At the heart of Dutch high tech innovation are robust public-private partnerships and advanced R&D ecosystems
  • Eindhoven is ranked 4th on science & technology cluster intensity in the Global Innovation Index 2023 report, High Tech Campus Eindhoven houses 12,000 researchers, developers and entrepreneurs.
  • Other worldclass technology and research centres are YES!Delft (Delft University of Technology) and Kennispark Twente (University of Twente)


  • One of Europe’s leading suppliers of chemical products and services
  • Home to 2,000 leading chemical companies covering the entire supply chain
  • In the heart of the Antwerp-Rotterdam-Rhein-Ruhr Area (ARRRA), one of the world's top 5 chemical clusters
  • Host to 19 of the world’s top 25 leading chemical companies
  • Strong ecosystem for collaborative research, including leading universities, Centers for Open Chemical Innovation (COCI), iLabs and a range of public-private partnerships
  • Port of Rotterdam is one of the world’s major refining and chemical clusters
  • The Royal Association of the Dutch Chemical Industry is strongly committed to a climate-neutral and circular chemical industry by 2050

Life Sciences and Health

  • Home to the European Medicine Authority
  • One of the most concentrated life sciences regions in the world, the Dutch Life Sciences & Health community includes 3,000+ R&D life sciences companies of which 400 biopharmaceutical companies
  • Occupies a 3rd position in the 2022 World Index of Healthcare Innovation
  • Houses 26 campuses, 7 University Medical Centers, and 13 universities engaged in life sciences research
  • The Netherlands has more than 300 life sciences and health public-private partnerships
  • Ranks high worldwide in patent applications for medical technology, biotechnology patents and pharmaceutical patents
  • Number 2 importer and number 2 exporter of medical devices in Europe

Legal System

There are several ways to operate a business in the Netherlands. A distinction can be made between Dutch entities with legal personality (corporate entities) and Dutch entities without legal personality (non-corporate entities). It is also possible to perform business activities through a Dutch branch office of a foreign legal entity. Below we discuss the main legal entities used by foreign investors and companies expanding their businesses to the Netherlands.

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Knowledge Centre

Rotterdam, PwC Netherlands

Tel: +31 (0)88 792 43 51

Jeroen Peters

Jeroen Peters

Tax Partner, PwC Netherlands

Tel: +31 (0)88 792 46 24

Mariska van der Maas

Mariska van der Maas

Director, PwC Netherlands

Tel: +31 (0)62 422 10 29