Scotland: a trading nation

A plan for growing Scotland's exports.


Country brief

The Netherlands is a small but very densely populated country with a population of 17.1 million (2017). It is the world’s second-largest exporter of food and agricultural products (after the United States), owing to its fertile soil, mild climate, and intensive agriculture. 

The port of Rotterdam makes the Netherlands a major hub for international freight.

Key market information

Economic indicators


GDP 2017*


GDP per capita 2017*


GDP annual growth rate 2013-2017


GDP annual growth forecast 2018-2023


Population 2017


Projected population growth 2017-2050 (% change)


Scotland’s exports to Netherlands


Scotland’s exports to Netherlands 2017


    Average annual growth in Scotland’s exports to Netherlands 2013-2017


Country rank in Scotland’s exports 2017


Scotland's Top Export Sectors to Netherlands, 2017

Scotland's Top Export Sectors to Netherlands

Netherlands imports from the world


Netherlands goods and services imports 2017*


Netherlands average annual Import growth 2013-2017*


Netherlands Top 15 Import Sectors

Netherlands Top 15 Import Sectors

Sources: Economic indicators (World Bank, IMF World Economic Outlook), Scotland’s Exports (Export Statistics Scotland 2017), Country Imports (World Bank, UN Comtrade).

* denotes an indicator which has been converted into GB£ from US$ using the Bank of England’s average annual spot rate data. Note growth rates may vary depending on unit of currency used.

The Dutch Economy

Despite being a small country, the Dutch economy is prosperous. The Netherlands economy, as measured by Gross Domestic Product (GDP), is the 18th largest in the world and the sixth largest in the European Union. 

Key economic indicators are:

  • The Dutch economy is growing steadily at 2.7% of GDP in 2018. (OECD) 
  • Exports as a percentage of the Netherland’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product) were 83% in 2018. (OECD)
  • Unemployment is low at 3.8% in December 2018. (OECD).

The Netherlands is a member of the European Union (EU), the World Trade Organization (WTO) and other international bodies. Goods manufactured in Scotland are exempt from import duties. 

The Department for International Trade’s guide for doing business in the Netherlands can be found here.

Strengths of the Dutch market include

The Dutch approach to business is similar to Scotland’s so doing business there should not present major challenges. However, the Dutch market is very open and highly competitive. Businesses should be well prepared in order to beat the competition from both domestic and international companies.

The Netherlands ranks 36th out of 190 countries in the World Bank rankings for ease of doing business.

  • Innovative
  • Open Economy
  • Efficient business culture

Benefits for Scottish businesses exporting to the Netherlands

  • High living standards
  • Stable economy
  • Close to market
  • Similar culture

What Scotland exports to Netherlands

The Netherlands is Scotland’s second biggest export market. Exports were worth £2.5 billion in 2017. This represents 7.6% of Scotland’s total international exports. (Export Statistics Scotland).

The top 5 Scottish export sectors to the Netherlands:

  • Chemical Sciences
  • Energy
  • Engineering and Advanced Manufacturing
  • Financial and Business Services
  • Life Sciences

Sectoral Opportunities

When compared to the export performance of similar countries (Norway, Finland, Ireland and Denmark), the Netherlands market presents potential export growth opportunities in the following subsectors: • Machinery and Equipment

  • Financial Services
  • Computer and IT Services
  • Chemical Sciences

Priority sectors in the Netherlands for economic development

  • Renewable energy
  • Water management
  • Food security

Infographic of Netherlands Top Opportunities

Existing in-market support for Scottish businesses in the Netherlands

Scottish Development International  offers support from neighbouring Belgium for the BeNeLux countries. There is one member of staff supporting trade focusing on the consumer industries sector.


There are 4 GlobalScots in the Netherlands working in the energy and financial & business services sectors.

Department for International Trade

Contact the Department for International Trade team in The Netherlands for more information and advice on opportunities for doing business in the Netherlands.

Chambers of Commerce

The Netherlands Britain Chamber of Commerce can provide members with advice and introductions in the Netherlands market through their offices based in London and The Hague.

University Links

Strathclyde University has established a Dutch Foundation (Stichting) to support collaboration with European partners in the future. The main partner is TU Delft and the focus is on European Regional Policy. 

University of Amsterdamand the University of Edinburgh signed a Memorandum of Agreement in 2018, committing funding to support student and staff collaboration and activity in key focus areas such as artificial intelligence and law, logic, cognition and ageing, energy and sustainability.

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