Annual report for the Benelux countries 2010
The Netherlands: Because of the country’s strategic location on the North Sea and the Rhine, trade and distribution are in the Dutch genes. The Port of Rotterdam is among the most important sea ports in the world. Amsterdam Schiphol Airport occupies a similar position in Europe. Their geographic location and function as international hubs in Europe are seen as a major advantage. The ports of Rotterdam and Amsterdam have outstanding infrastructure and logistics services. The Dutch are business people. The population is highly educated, internationally oriented and largely multilingual. This explains why the Netherlands has proved attractive for foreign companies.
Belgium: Economic growth in 2009 was negative (minus 1.5 percent) but is expected to be positive again in 2010 (plus 0.8 percent). Although inflation was nearly zero, the National Bank of Belgium has complained that declining food and energy prices in 2009 have been insufficiently translated into lower consumer prices. At 7.9 percent, Belgian unemployment is lower than that of the Eurozone (9.4 percent), but is expected to deteriorate further in 2010. Just like the Dutch, the Belgians spend around 15 percent of their total spending on food.