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Netherlands - Selling and buying

Contents extracted from the comprehensive atlas of international trade by Export Entreprises

Reaching the consumers

Marketing opportunities

Consumer behavior: Dutch consumers tend to value quality to a high degree, they are willing to buy something when they see that the price relates to the quality. They usually do not favor Dutch products over their foreign counterparts. Dutch consumers are sensitive for advertisements and a good advertisement campaign is bound to a big effect on the sales.
Consumer profile: The Dutch consumer has a lot of money to spend but will not spend it easily. By nature they tend to resist change and this also means that they prefer products that they already know over new products. Recently there has been a lot of publicity about the environment which has increased the willingness of Dutch consumers to buy environmental-friendly products.
Main advertising agencies:

Distribution network

Evolution of the sector: Retail trade is valued at around 100 billion EUR.
Types of outlet: Comparable to that of other European countries. Is dominated by big groups like Ahold which controls 42% of the food distribution market, followed by Laurus which holds 17% (the Laurus brand is on the verge of disappearing which is benefiting the French brand Casino which today owns 38.7% of Laurus). Despite the development of large supermarkets, Dutch consumers continue to prefer neighborhood stores which allow small supermarkets and specialized stores to retain a considerable share in the Dutch distribution market.
The discount market is also growing; increasing from 10% in 2003 to 13% in 2004.
In the non-food sector, international and Dutch brands co-exist and all of them are well established. In the textile sector there is C&A, Maxeda, and in the furnishing sector Blokker is a national brand.
Organizations in the sectors:

Market access procedures

Economic Cooperation: Member of the European Union Custom Union and numbers of multilateral and bilateral agreements.
Non tariff barriers: The Netherlands, member of the European Union applies its rules. While the EU has a rather liberal foreign trade policy, there is a certain number of restrictions, especially on farm products, following the implementation of the CAP (Common Agricultural Policy): the application of compensations on import and export of farm products, aimed at favoring the development of agriculture within the EU, implies a certain number of control and regulation systems for the goods entering the EU territory.
Moreover, for sanitary reasons, regarding Genetically Modified Organisms, their presence should be systematically specified on packaging. Beef cattle bred on hormones is also forbidden to import.
The BSE crisis ("mad cow disease") urged the European Authorities to strengthen the phytosanitary measures to make sure of the quality of meats entering and circulating in the EU territory. The principle of precaution is now widespread: in case of doubt, the import is prohibited until proof is made of the non-harmfulness of products.
Average Customs Duty (excluding agricultural products): The Netherlands has (as a member of the European Union) one of the lowest average custom duties with 4.17%.

Complete detail of the custom duties by classification per product

Customs classification: Harmonized custom system.
Import procedures: Release for free circulation confers on non-Community goods the status of Community goods. Article 79 (2) Customs Code (CC) clarifies that release for free circulation entails: both the collection of import duties where goods are liable to them according to the Community Customs Tariff and no duty relief is applicable and the application of commercial policy measures (such as the presentation of an import authorization for goods subject to quotas) and any other formalities laid down in respect of the importation of such goods (such as the presentation of a health certificate for certain animals).

Additional information about import procedures can be found on the European Commission website.

As part of the "SAFE" standards advocated by the World Customs Organization (WCO), the European Union has set up a new system of import controls, the "Import Control System" (ICS), which aims to secure the flow of goods at the time of their entry into the customs territory of the EU. This control system, part of the Community Program eCustomer, has been in effect since January 1, 2011. Since then, operators are required to pass an Entry Summary Declaration (ENS) to the customs of the country of entry, prior to the introduction of goods into the customs territory of the European Union.

Organizing goods transport

Organizing goods transport to and from: Rotterdam is the first port of Europe and one of the most important in the world: in 1998, it handled 315 million tons of goods. This is set to reach an estimated 480 million by 2020. The Netherlands have an internal network of waterways covering 5,046 km, which handle a considerable volume of goods. The other important port is Amsterdam. In 1997 transport by inland waterway represented only 19% of the goods traffic on the domestic market as compared to 64% on the international market which demonstrates the enormous potential to be exploited at the national level. In general, the government's goal is to promote sea transport rather than road transport.

There are a few domestic lines because of the small size of the country. KLM covers a worldwide network with competitive prices.

The country's modern and vast road network. The road capacity sometimes remains insufficient given the traffic density, resulting in traffic jams. The Ministry in charge of Transport and traffic, Telecoms, and the management of Water and Aviation (Ministry of transport, Public Works and Water Management), has planned a certain number of investments for the improvement of road infrastructures, such as the "Bereikbaarheidsoffensief project". This project will make it possible for four big cities to be better served thanks to the introduction of toll roads, on a trial basis.

Since 1985, while goods transport has decreased because of the competition with road transport. In 1993, railways transported 4.79 million tons of goods. The government is now planning to take certain measures for the creation of a fast rail link between the four big cities.

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