Optimism at home, nervousness abroad: Dutch business leaders’ views revealed

80% are optimistic about prospects for the Dutch economy over the next 1-2 years, but
67% fear there will be another Eurozone crisis in the next five years and
65% think President-elect Trump will be bad for the global economy


Eden McCallum’s survey of 307 Dutch business leaders, carried out for the third consecutive year, has revealed a mixed picture as far as attitudes to 2017 and 2018 are concerned. There is striking optimism about the prospects in the home market. 80% say they feel positively about the next two years – the same overall figure as last year, but the proportion saying they are very positive has risen from 9% to 21%.




However, 67% think there will be another crisis in the Eurozone in the next five years (up from 57% a year earlier), and 58% think that another global financial crisis is likely in the same time frame (up from 50% a year ago).




While 56% think that Brexit will be harmful to the Dutch economy, only 30% of our survey respondents felt that Brexit would actually harm their business.




And on President-elect Trump views are mixed, too: 38% think he could be good for the US economy, but for the rest of the world? Not so much. 65% think he will in fact harm the global economy, and 44% say he will be bad for the Dutch economy.




The survey also picked up serious concerns about the rise of protectionism in the US and nationalism in Europe. While the Brexit vote is seen positively by a few respondents, who think it might help shake up the EU, a more widely held view is that dangerous nationalism could be unleashed. In this context, the arrival of President-elect Trump could also be disruptive and damaging. Protectionism and nationalism do not form a good basis for healthy trade.

Is there a chance that Dutch business leaders are being too optimistic about their home market? Roland van Dijk, Global Director for Corporate Development at Arcadis, the built assets consultancy, says that it might be wise to be a bit more cautious.

“Yes, there is a positive feeling in the home market, but we shouldn’t think disruption only happens abroad,” he says. “There could be good news for us in the US if proposed infrastructure investment happens, and Brexit may not turn out to be quite as bad for us as we first feared. But there are elections in the Netherlands next year, and it would be foolish to think that a surprise can’t happen here,” he adds. “We could be one vote away from something similar to Brexit or Trump happening. We can be cautiously optimistic, but should be ready for the worst also.”




Eden McCallum’s Economic Outlook Survey

Eden McCallum’s survey was conducted online with their clients and other business leaders in the Netherlands. Responses were gathered between 16th and 28th November 2016, and at the same time of year in 2014 and 2015. In 2016 there were 307 respondents to the Netherlands survey.

77% of respondents were Chairs, CEOs/MDs, Board Directors, divisional Directors, or VP/Partners, within publicly-listed companies (36% of respondents), privately-held companies (52%), state-owned entities and other types of organisation (12%).