Speech Marieke Monroy-Winter, Deputy Head of Mission

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Speech Marieke Monroy-Winter, Deputy Head of Mission

Bom dia Excelentíssimos Senhoras e Senhores!

Também da minha parte, sejam muito bem-vindos! Talvez estivessem à espera de um discurso em português da minha colega Ria Bargeman, a nossa perita em negócios, mas, infelizmente, ela não pode estar aqui neste momento.

Vou tentar substitui-la, mas espero que compreendam que vou continuar em inglês. Contudo, fiquem à vontade se preferirem fazer um comentário ou uma pergunta em português depois das apresentações!

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Just as Ambassador Bijl de Vroe has said in his opening remarks, we like each other, but do not always know one another. By this presentation, I would like to provide you with information on why Holland provides such an excellent opportunity to do business. I will focus on 3 topics: Investing in Holland, StartUps and Nearshoring.

Investing in Holland

To start with the first: why invest in Holland?

Now Holland is an amazing country. You will not be surprised to hear me, a Dutch national and official representative, say this. But it is not just my perception, the facts speak for themselves!

I will give you 6 very good reasons why Holland is an excellent choice.

To start with the first: location.

Take one look at the map and you will understand: Holland is in the centre of Western-Europa. Within 300 miles, you will find 160 million consumers with quite a nice bit of money to spend!

And these customers are easy to reach, because of our excellent connections: Did you know that we rank nr 2 in the world for Logistics performance? By water, road or air, Holland provides the connections.

Let me show you in a bit more detail what I mean by that.

Rotterdam, the biggest port in Europa and Amsterdam, nr 4 in Europe, provide the connection between maritime transport and inland shipping along waterways leading into continental Europe.

Also the airport with the difficult name, ‘Schiphol’, is a major hub in Europe, for passengers as well as cargo. Not only the numbers impress, but to be named Best Airport in Europe for 25 consecutive years by Business Traveller… you must be doing something really really well!

Naturally, our airports and seaports are connected to a very dense network of roads and railroads. And by the way: our roads are toll free…

But not only does Holland provide a hub for conventional connections, our digital infrastructure is also state of the art. Amsterdam even houses the largest internet exchange facility in the world! Access to broadband and fiber optic connections are a standard feature in almost all households and companies throughout the country.

Of course, being so well connected is cause and consequence of a very international, pro-business outlook.

Holland is a small country, we have always looked abroad for trade and business opportunities: one third of our GDP is internationally derived. The 2014 rankings say it all: Holland is Nr. 3 when it comes to enabling trade, Nr. 8 on the list of best countries to do business and Nr. 8 ranking for competitiveness.

Another important factor for investors is the fiscal climate. Holland is known for a stable tax system and competitive rates. The extended tax treaty network is another interesting feature for international businesses.

Of course, doing business is not only about location, infrastructure and fiscal climate. It is also very much about people. You will find highly educated, productive, creative and open minded people in Holland. And don’t be afraid that you will have to learn how to pronounce words as ‘gisteren’, ‘Groningen’ and ‘huizenhoog’.

Almost everybody in the Netherlands will be able to speak English with you!

Many have been educated in one of the many high level and internationally oriented universities in Holland. Just to name a few: our agricultural university in Wageningen, our technical universities in Delft, Eindhoven and Twente, our comprehensive universities in Amsterdam and Utrecht. But also think of the world famous Design Academy in Eindhoven!

And last but not least: Holland is a very pleasant, safe country to provides excellent conditions for a happy life.

Good health care, accessible education, comparitively low cost of living, it all contributes to a happy population.

Okay, I admit that the climate in Portugal is nicer,

but when it rains, just unfold your Senz design umbrella, hop on your bike and enjoy your ride!

To recap: Holland is an excellent choice for investments because of strategic location, state of the art infrastructure, its business and financial climate, the well educated workforce and exceptional quality of life!


Now when I talked about why investing in Holland is a very interesting business opportunity, I was not only thinking of investments worth millions of euros.

For smaller scale initiatives, Holland could be an interesting choice too. For the same reasons as for big scale investments.

But there is more: we have come to realise how innovative startups play a key role in value creation. Sometimes small start ups work in ways that revolutionize the business world. And sometimes even society. Take for instance WiFi: it was developed by a Dutch engineer, who sold the idea to Interbrand. Nowadays, can we imagine life without it?

And just to foster this type of value creation, the StartupDelta initiative was launched: it aims to be Europe’s best connected and largest start up ecosystem. Ms. Neelie Kroes, the former EU Commissioner for Competition and for Telecommunications, is the special envoy for StartupDelta.

By connecting the 10 innovative hubs spread over the Netherlands, an environment is created that is very supportive to all kinds of Startups. And you are welcome to be part of this network and make use of its benefits: connections to the Academic world, government, corporates, financial institutions etc.

StartupDelta offers a one-stop-shop for people with good ideas that want to set up a business. They can help you find your way in the Netherlands.


Finally, I would like to point out a rather specific, but very promising opportunity for Portuguese producers:


In the Dutch Embassy in Lisbon, we have come to notice 2 small but interesting trends.

The first: we are regularly contacted by Dutch business people that are not satisfied with their production partners far away from Europe. Sometimes they are unhappy with the quality of the products produced overseas, sometimes the manufacturers are not reliable or not flexible enough to adjust to quickly changing trends in the markets.

The other trend we see, are designers from the Netherlands looking for high end facilities to produce their designs. Because in the Netherlands we are very good with design: for fashion, footwear, bags, interior decoration. But we do not have a big manufacturing industry in this field.

So both groups are looking for opportunities to produce close to home and to find places where high quality is the standard and where tailor made, small production runs are possible and affordable.

This is where Portugal has a lot to offer. Especially in the field of footwear & bags, textiles or ceramics. An excellent exemple of this trend is the young Dutch shoe designer the Ambassador mentioned, who took his production to Guimarães.

The Dutch Embassy in Lisbon has already successfully brought into contact Dutch fashion designers and Portuguese producers. We hope that many more successful business marriages will follow!

Finally, I would like mention our website, that provides a wealth of additional information on how to do business with Holland. And should you have very specific questions, our staff is willing to help point you into the right direction. Thank you for your attention.

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