The Netherlands

.. s. Herbert Barnard, a counselor for Heath and welfare at the Royal Netherlands Embassy, says, Our policy has produced results that are demonstrably better than those in many of the countries criticizing us. While we realize that an ongoing dialogue with all those involved with the drug problem is a precondition for any progress, we are not going to change our policy on the basis of unjustified criticism (69). As I have already mentioned, the Netherlands has a strong economy with an emphasis on exports.

The Netherlands has played a special role in the European economy for many centuries. Since the 16th century, shipping, fishing, trade, and banking have been leading sectors of the Dutch economy, and trade with the country’s colonial empire was important in the 19th and the first half of the 20th centuries. Since the independence of Indonesia in the late 1940’s, the Dutch economy has been redirected from colonial trade to that with European nations; a diversified manufacturing base was created as employment in agriculture fell; and the country became a major energy exporter as large deposits of natural gas were discovered. In all these changes the national government played a major role, particularly by its economic planning. The government’s influence is great even though most firms are privately owned, because it distributes nearly half the Dutch national income.

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Also important in the economic growth of the Netherlands are the activities of a number of large private firms.In 1992 the gross domestic product (GDP) of the Netherlands was measured at $324.6 billion. Between 1980 and 1990, the country’s GDP grew at an average yearly rate of 1.9 percent. About 32.5 percent of the GDP is produced by manufacturing, construction, and energy-related activities; agriculture contributed 5 percent, and the service sector was also a major contributor. As of late, however, the major growth of the Dutch economy has been due to stock growth and, as I already mentioned, large activity among private firms.

Previously, investing in stocks and bonds in the Netherlands, like in other European countries, had been a matter primarily for those in the financial industry and the wealthy (Janssen 42).In fact, not until the late 1980’s did it occur to middle class Dutchmen or women to invest their savings in the stock market. Now all of that has changed. Currently in the Netherlands, everybody talks about owning stocks. The stock market-fad is sweeping through the country.

Investor clubs have become extremely popular, and there are a number of investing courses, seminars and fairs welcome to the public. About 2 million people in the Netherlands are shareowners in one way or another (Jansen 42).Throughout history, the Netherlands has always been about owning stock. For example, the VOC, the Dutch East Indies Company, founded in 1602, was the first stock-owned company in the world. Today the Amsterdam Stock Exchange (AEX), one of the oldest exchanges in Europe, ranks fourth in Europe, after London, Frankfurt, and Paris.

Some of the big boosters of the AEX are pension funds. Pension funds play an important role in the Dutch economy, as all workers are obliged to save for their old age through their employer’s pension fund (Jansen 42).Some of these funds are huge players in the world market.

For example, the fund for Dutch public servants is one of the largest funds in the world. In addition, the government actively promotes individual savings for retirement. Consequently, with everyone thinking about their later years, the AEX will always have a good market. Another major factor in the Dutch economy are the numerous amounts of large, independent companies. One such company is a gas and oil company known as Royal Dutch/Shell.Shell gas stations are located all over the world, primarily in North America and in Europe. Despite outrageous gas prices in the Netherlands, like $4.15 per gallon, Shell has 12,954 gasoline stations in Europe alone (Jansen 44; Firms Agree NA).

The high gas prices in the Netherlands are due to a government tax on gas. Almost 80 percent of the price of gas goes to taxes. The government has placed such a high tax on fuel in an attempt to cut down traffic and environmental pollution. Shell is not going to let the high gas price affect their growth, however.In a recent deal between Shell and PetroFina, the companies have agreed to swap Shell gasoline stations in the Netherlands for Fina Inc. stations and other marketing activities in Norway (Firms Agree NA). If the deal goes through without any hindrance from the EU Commission antitrust authorities, then Shell share would be the highest in the Netherlands, where they would control 42.3 percent of the pumps.

Their closest competitor is Texaco which only has 2,984 gas stations which are mostly in Britain. In addition to the large companies, entertainment is starting to play vital role in the economy. As of late, there has been a big stir among television companies over the anticipated arrival of the new Fox channel.Fox television hit America and practically took over. They show a wide variety of family shows, shows that are geared more towards women, and, to satisfy the men, numerous sporting events. Commercial channels in Holland, already strapped with meager profits and splintered audiences, are bracing for a new round of competition with the relaunch of niche channel TV10 as a new Fox Group outlet.

. . (Edmunds 52).Previously, TV10 had been showing Fox Kids shows during the day and getting rave reviews.

However, their night time line-up has not been doing so well. Showing shows like The A-Team and Kung Fu has been attracting audiences in the 50-and-over range, which advertisers hate. The new Fox line-up, however, plans to change all of that. Hans Bloem, managing director of TV10, says that the new line-up will consist of new and interesting shows from Fox, as well as some Dutch programs (Edmunds 52).

Bloem has said the programming will be so-called family entertainment’ aimed at capturing the parents of the children who watch Fox Kids’ (Edmunds 52). There are some skeptics out there, however.Some industry observers question whether or not there is room in the market for another channel. . . .

Netherlands I and RTL 4 already program a fair amount of family entertainment, and their audience shares have been dipping rather than growing in recent years (Edmunds 52). However, TV10 is hopping that the addition of Fox Entertainment will completely steel all of the viewers in Holland and shut down the competition for good. Another plus in the entertainment industry is the record numbers in the movie industry.

It took several years of intense plex-building activity, a sophisticated marketing campaign, a rash of decent pies, and two Oscars in the course of three years, but the Dutch finally are getting out of their homes and back in front of the big screen (Edmunds 74). Because of the new push towards the cinemas, attendance last year rose to 18.9 million, the highest point in 20 years. Experts believe that, if the attendance figures follow the same pattern set in 1997, attendance could climb as high as 21 million by the year’s end. This boom in movie going could possibly generate close to $120 million in sales. With the economy going so well, it is no doubt that the Dutch have superb international relations.

Although the Netherlands is a small country, its engineering and consultancy services are some of the strongest in the world. It ranks third after the US and the UK in terms of fees earned by consultants, and the sector is still growing (Faith wins 9). Holland’s main areas of traditional expertise are hydraulic engineering, agriculture and transport. These skills, developed over centuries of land reclamation at home and trading around the world, have earned the Dutch a long standing respect and a demand for their expertise in areas such as the Middle East. Another key aspect to the Netherlands’ international success is the country’s position, which ensures that its economy is built on trade with other countries.

The country ranks among the world’s top 10 exporters and is the fifth largest exporter in the EU (Location is key 12). The countries around the Netherlands account for the vast majority of Dutch exports, namely her neighboring country, Germany. The Middle East, however, accounts for a good portion of the country’s remaining exports. In 1996 Dutch exports to Asia totaled just over $10,000 million. Of these, 21.3 percent ended up in the Middle East (Location is key 12). A major interest to the Dutch economy is Iraq.It is a large country with a large population and a lot of oil.

Dutch companies are interested in Iraq, but only when the bans [UN sanctions] are lifted (Location is key 12). Because of this keen interest in Iraq and the country’s immense respect among international affairs, the Netherlands has teemed up with the UK and presented a proposal to the UN Security Council to replace the UN Special Commission (UNSCOM) with a new weapons inspections body (IRAQ 17). The new body, called the UN Commission for Investigation, Inspection & Monitoring, would oblige Iraq to allow inspection teams immediate, unconditional and unrestricted access to all areas, facilities, equipment, records and means of transportation (IRAQ 17). In exchange for this, the new plan would eliminate the $5,250 million limit on the amount of oil Iraq can sell under the UN oil-for-food deal and it would set up an UN committee to recommend ways of increasing Iraq’s oil production.Whether this plan works or not will remain to be seen. The Netherlands would like to see it go through, however, so that trade with Iraq can begin as soon as possible.

If you wanted to move to another country, then the Netherlands would be the place to go. The government, although in a bit of a crunch right now, is very stable and the economy is better that good. The liberal atmosphere in the Netherlands would create a cozy place to call home and success would not be hard to find.European History.