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Economic relations

France is the Netherlands’ sixth-leading supplier and its fourth-biggest customer. Our market share has been stable for three years at around 5%.

France benefited from the upturn in the Dutch economy in 2006 and 2007 (growth of 3.5%) with trade up more than 6% on average. The turnaround in the economic situation was felt in 2008 and heightened in 2009. In 2008, trade totalled €36b (€17b in exports, +2.3%, €19b in imports, +5.2%). Traditionally showing a deficit, our trade balance widened slightly, to €2.3b.

For 2009, a collapse in trade following the crisis was observed: French exports to the Netherlands fell 19.4% in value compared with the same period in 2008. Our imports from the Netherlands also dropped 15%. The automotive and transport sectors posted a 35% decrease in exports to the Netherlands in 2009; metal and industrial products were also deeply affected, falling from 20% to 40%.

14,000 French companies export to the Netherlands, of which 65% are SMEs, making less than 20% of the sales. Big French and foreign groups enjoy a predominant share in terms of export turnover.

In 2008, France was ranked fourth in terms of total FDI in the Netherlands, after the United States, Germany and the United Kingdom. Some of the most notable investments include Danone’s buyout of Numico (agrifood), Unibail’s buyout of Rodamco (commercial real estate), Transdev’s buyout of Connexxion (urban transport), or Rexol and Sonepar’s buyout of Hagemeyer (electrical equipment).

Nearly 400 French subsidiaries (or French-held companies) are present in the Netherlands and provide 165,000 jobs. These subsidiaries are found in every sector of the economy and, more specifically, in the service industries (financial, transport, trade and energy), the metallurgical industry and agrifood. Some of France’s leading establishments include Air France-KLM, Atos Origin, Sodexo, Cap Gemini, Accor, Thales, Total, Suez-GDF, and Saint-Gobain.

French companies are establishing profitable synergies with their Dutch partners. Several Franco-Dutch rapprochements have given rise to world leaders in their business segments and to extensions in terms of bilateral cooperation. Air France-KLM, Atos Origin, and, since 2007 Danone/Numico are some of these strategic partnerships. The Air France-KLM merger (extended to Martinair in 2008) is also at the origin of the industrial cooperation agreement between Aéroports de Paris (ADP) and Schiphol Group, signed in November 2008. Finally, Danone has chosen to draw on Numico’s RD infrastructure in the Netherlands (European leader in baby food and medical nutrition) to expand in buoyant segments.

In the opposite direction, according to the AFII, the Netherlands was the fifth-leading foreign investor in France in 2008. Between 1993 and 2008, Dutch companies played a role in creating or keeping 15,000 jobs in France. The favourite sectors reflect the strong points of the Dutch economy: agrifood (Unilever, Heineken, DSM, etc.), chemicals/pharmaceuticals (Shell, SHV, Akzo-Nobel), electronics (Philips), logistics and transport (TNT, Frans Maas, Vopak, etc.).

Updated on 10.01.11

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