Industries: an introduction

Although more than two-thirds of Dutch GDP is fueled by the service sector (whose high quality has undoubtedly played a part in foreign companies' decision to invest in the country), the Netherlands has made a name for itself in industry by developing strong clusters in technology-related industries such as biotechnology, fine chemicals, food, pharmaceuticals, electronics, telematics, computer products, medical technology, new materials and printing. Five of the world's leading multinationals (Philips, Unilever, Royal Dutch/Shell Group, DSM and Akzo Nobel) were founded in this country.

A well-educated workforce and an active R&D front make the Netherlands highly suitable as a location for sophisticated, high end manufacturing. Also, the high development of the industrial sector means there are ample possibilities subcontract and ensures the supply of semi-manufactured goods and components in various fields.

New developments

Dutch industry has reacted swiftly to technological advances, leading in turn to ripple effects throughout the economy. The information and communications technology sector now accounts for nearly 20% of total GDP growth. In addition, biotechnology is playing an increasingly prominent role in more traditional sectors such as agro-food and chemicals. These trends have been spearheaded by Dutch and foreign firms alike, especially in the fields of information and communications technology, life sciences and chemicals.

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