British Investment in Netherlands Surges as Brexit Looms

The Peace Palace, home of the International Court of Justice, in The Hague, Netherlands, on Feb. 25, 2019. (AP Photo/Mike Corder)

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (CN) – The Netherlands has seen a fivefold increase in British investments as the deadline approaches for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union, according to the Dutch government.

Following the Brexit referendum in 2016, in which the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union, British investment in Dutch businesses has increased sharply. The U.K. is set to leave the EU on Oct. 31.

In 2016, 14 billion euros ($15.5 billion) flowed across the North Sea for the purchase of Dutch companies, to set up Dutch subsidiaries and other investments.

That number more than doubled in 2017 to 35 billion euros ($38.7 billion) and, in the most recent figures available from 2018, more than doubled again, to 80 billion euros ($88.4 billion). That’s according to new figures from the Dutch National Statistics Office, CBS.

At the same time, Dutch firms have become more hesitant to invest in the U.K.. In 2016, the U.K. took in 50 billion euros ($55.2 billion) from Dutch firms. That dropped to 24 billion euros ($26.5 billion) in 2017. Last year, Dutch investment in the U.K. went negative with Netherlands-based companies pulling 11 billion euros ($12.1 billion) out of the British economy.

On top of the declining Dutch investment, 98 firms have relocated from the U.K. to the Netherlands since the Brexit referendum.

“The ongoing growing uncertainty in the United Kingdom, and the increasingly clearer possibility of a no-deal, is causing major economic unrest for these companies. That is why more and more companies are orienting themselves in the Netherlands as a potential new base in the European market,” said Jeroen Nijland, commissioner of the Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency.

No deal refers to the U.K. leaving the EU without negotiating any withdrawal agreements with the 26 other EU member states.

In 2017, the U.K. was the largest trading partner for the Netherlands, taking 7.3% of the total goods the Dutch export. It’s unclear how that trading relationship will be affected by Brexit without a withdrawal deal.

Sigrid Kaag, the Dutch trade minister, expressed frustration at the lack of a deal.

“At a certain moment, enough is enough. At some point the certainty offered by a worsening situation is better than continuing uncertainty with no new perspective,” she told the Dutch newspaper the Financieele Dagblad.

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