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Despite increased congestion, higher costs and more demanding consumers throughout the EU, the logistics-savvy Netherlands again has proved that it is the right choice for global companies looking for a European base of distribution operations. The European Union, with its 450 million inhabitants and its prospects for greater population expansion and prosperity, is a market every multinational company must prize. But serving this expanding market has become an increasingly complex supply chain challenge. The cost and availability of land, labor, energy and transportation, as well as with growing problems with congestion and environmental regulations make facility site location a make-or-break decision for supply chain success.
"Five or 10 years ago, 80 percent of the European distribution centers (EDCs) were in the Netherlands," says Roy Lenders, a vice president with the Capgemini consulting firm in Utrecht. "Today Belgium is even with the Netherlands in attracting new EDCs and Germany is coming on strong. Even Ireland is gaining attention because of tax benefits, even though it is not a logistically convenient place to locate Europe distribution operations."
Thus, many European countries are aggressively seeking foreign investment in distribution facilities, so the Dutch government is again bringing the full force of its efforts on attracting logistics investment. These efforts are paying off. According to the Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency, about 45 percent of all new EDCs are locating in Holland.
"Holland intends to maintain its top place in Europe for foreign investment in logistics, which accounts for nearly 10 percent of our entire GDP," says Jochum Haakma, managing director for NFIA in The Hague. Corporate income taxes have been lowered from 35 percent to 25.5 percent. Customs duties and value-added taxes are handled administratively, meaning that companies can pay them periodically, not with every transaction as with many EU countries. The government also supports an agency called the Holland International Distribution Council (HIDC) made up of 500-third party logistics providers (3PLs), forwarders and carriers to help foreign companies find the right logistics service partners in Holland.
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