The Netherlands

Market overview

The Netherlands has eased COVID-19 restrictive measures since 1 July, but social distancing and working from home will remain the norm throughout the European summer.

It is mandatory to wear a non-medical face mask on Dutch public transport.

Updates on the measures Netherlands is taking in response to COVID-19 can be found on the Government website here.

For more information on doing business in the Netherlands, visit myNZTE - our free online portal for curated, in-depth information and guidance.   


Economy and trade

The official Dutch economic forecast predicts a GDP contraction of 6% in 2020, followed by 3% growth in 2021.

Government support

On 17 March, the Dutch Government announced measures in response to COVID-19 to ensure the impact on business is minimised. The measures taken are summarised below. You can find more detail on the Government's business webpage here (English language).

Measures in place include:

  • Temporary Emergency Bridging Measure for Sustained Employment (NOW) to provide financial help to employers who will face a turnover loss of at least 20%. The Government will pay up to 90% of employee wages. You can read more about the scheme, eligibility and how to apply here. This scheme has been extended for firms that experience a 40% decrease in revenue, rather than the 50% initially required.

  • SME credit guarantee (BMKB) scheme will be extended from 16 March 2020 to April 2021 to help SMEs affected by COVID-19 to secure bank guarantees and bridge financing. You can read more about eligibility and how to apply here.

  • Business Loan Guarantee scheme has been extended. Companies can take a loan of up to €150 million. Details on eligibility and how to apply are available here.

  • Compensation for Entrepreneurs in affected sectors - A one-time €4,000 compensation for businesses that have suffered due to COVID-19. Details on eligibility and how to apply are available here.

  • Corona-Overbruggingslening (Corona Bridging Loan) scheme - €100M bridging loans allocated for startups, scaleups and innovative SMEs that are affected by the COVID-19 crisis. Applications can be made here.

Due to its reliance on international trade, the Dutch government has made additional loans available on favourable terms to businesses through the Dutch Trade and Investment Fund Dutch Good Growth Fund.

Tax options for companies

  • Companies can apply for a payment extension for income, corporate, payroll and turnover tax (VAT).

  • Late payment fines have been removed, and the normal collection interest rate for paying after the payment term has passed has decreased temporarily to nearly 0%.

You can read more about the Dutch Tax Administration measures to help entrepreneurs here, in Dutch language. If Dutch isn't your primary language, you can call the Tax Information Line (residents: +31 (0)800 0543, non-residents: +31 (0) 55 538 5385).

Companies in the Netherlands, including international businesses, can find additional information from the Government on COVID-19 on an FAQ page here.

Advice to exporters

In terms of immediate activity, make the safety and wellbeing of teams your priority, and invest as needed to ensure a safe and healthy working environment. Many businesses are still allowing employees to work from home where this is possible. Check in with your business partners and see how they are doing and how you might be able to support them during this time.

The Netherlands Chamber of Commerce has up-to-date information on the impact of COVID-19 on the Netherlands and internationally.

The Chamber of Commerce has also opened an online Corona Desk for companies with information on which schemes exist, how to operate in these times and what action is recommended if employees are developing symptoms. The Desk can also be reached by telephone on 0800 2117 within the Netherlands.

Invest in Holland provides the latest information for businesses in the Netherlands impacted by COVID-19 here.

Business operations

Like most countries within Europe, non-essential workers in the Netherlands are being encouraged to work from home where they can.

Tech video conference providers are being utilised during COVID-19. The most-used apps for home workers are Zoom, Google Hangouts, Microsoft Teams, and Cisco WebEx.

The Dutch Government has provided guidance for employers in COVID-19 FAQs here.

Supply chain, freight and logistics

Air and seaport status

In the Netherlands, ports, ocean and inland terminals, cargo airports and distribution centres are at full capacity.

The port of Rotterdam remains fully operational, but expects 20-30% lower container volume for the month of April. The port provides up to date information on its status in response to COVID-19 on its website here. Despite the crisis, the port of Rotterdam maintains sufficient space for the storage of goods and containers.

Amsterdam Airport Schiphol has experienced relatively few issues. In March the airport handled a 40% increase of cargo only flights, compared to February. Their website shows a continuing increase of freight movements since the beginning of the crisis.

On 2 April, Qatar Airways (one of the largest cargo airlines globally) announced it will add 25 weekly services to the Netherlands.

Logistics and freight

Logistics and distribution have been designated vital processes in the Netherlands. Inland shipping and rail to the 35 inland terminals in the Netherlands continues as usual, and there are no capacity issues in road freight.

Under the 'new normal', shippers and logistics providers are requiring constant monitoring of port status, asset availability and delivery options. US company FourKites has created a global map of real-time port congestion and border crossing times for truck traffic. This map highlights that the Port of Rotterdam is congestion-free and operations are uninterrupted, after an exceptional first quarter that showed a 10% decrease in volume, but a sustained container tonnage.

Transit times for ocean shipments have become longer and increasingly unpredictable. A quicker alternative can be rail and air for time-critical goods. However, air freight involves rates 3 to 5 times higher than normal.

Airlines are adding freighter capacity to cope with increased demand but are facing some limitations due to required social distancing measures. Schiphol airport is allowing more cargo flights to facilitate this increased demand.

The biggest challenge seen in the Netherlands for freight is delivery to the locations of European clients. European distribution is mostly hindered by closed delivery locations.

The first transport 'green lane' was opened between the Netherlands and Belgium, guaranteeing the free flow of freight traffic.

You can stay up to date on the impact of COVID-19 on Dutch freight and logistics on the Holland International Distribution Council website.

Supply chain

Third-party logistics (3PL) companies are fully operational in the Netherlands and have implemented precautionary social distancing and hygiene measures.

Regulations and customs processes

The Dutch customs authorities created a set of measures to assist companies that are not able to meet the customs-related obligations because of COVID-19. This includes flexibility in filing deadlines and temporary deferment of payments. More information and details on how to apply for these measures is available here.

Other changes that have been implemented to assist companies include:

  • Certificates of origin can be temporarily submitted digitally (here)

  • An exporter is not required to be based in the EU for export declarations.

Travel

Following EU guidance, the Netherlands has lifted the travel ban for certain countries including New Zealand. However existing restrictions remain in place for non-essential travel to Europe for other countries not named.

You can read more about travelling to the Netherlands on their government website here.


Sector insights

As is to be expected, numerous sectors have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Below you'll find information on any COVID-19 effects across important sectors and industries in the Netherlands.

Agritech

In April, Rabobank predicted that the agriculture sector in the Netherlands will decrease in value by 10%.

  • Floriculture and the potato sector have been severely impacted with significant drops in consumer demand as restaurants, cafes and caterers close and social distancing becomes mandatory.

  • Seasonal labour is an issue in the agriculture sector in the Netherlands, and Europe wide, as national border control measures have blocked access to the Central and Eastern European workers they rely on to work their harvests.

  • The consequences for livestock farming are closely monitored, but for the time being, livestock farming continues to thrive, subject to some price adjustments, such as those of milk, milk powder and butter.

  • The Dutch government has implemented financial support for farms affected by COVID-19 by guaranteeing working capital granted to farms and horticultural companies for loans of up to €1.2 million.

As horticulture produces and supplies fresh products, a rapid recovery of the logistics process will be necessary to safeguard food production in the Netherlands and other parts of the world.

The horticulture sector has an annual production value of €20 billion, an export value of €28 billion, and employs about 350,000 people. Fresh products are still widely available in the Netherlands, although initial panic buying led to shelves in supermarkets being temporarily cleared out and distribution centres unable to keep up.

Measures that affect international aviation and transport have been particularly hard on Dutch horticulture. For example, exports of seeds and young planting material are likely to be severely affected, as more than 40% of worldwide vegetable production utilises Dutch seeds and knowledge.

Additional resources

Below you can find information and contact details for other New Zealand government and international agencies regarding their response to COVID-19.

New Zealand Government agencies

Covid19.govt.nz
COVID-19 helpline for businesses
Business.govt.nz
New Zealand Customs
Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI)
New Zealand Export Credit (NZEC)
MFAT Export Helpline
MFAT Safetravel
Callaghan Innovation
Immigration
Ministry of Health
WorkSafe New Zealand
myNZTE

Global agencies

World Health Organization (WHO)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Contact NZTE

We're available to talk to you about any issues your export business is facing due to COVID-19.

For existing NZTE customers, please contact your New Zealand-based Customer Manager.

If you're unsure who to contact or haven't worked with us before, you can call NZTE on 0800 555 888 or email below and one of our Customer Advisors will help you.