ABSENCE OF LANGUAGE BARRIER EASES CHALLENGES; INSIDER INTERNATIONAL: THE NETHERLANDS.
MORE THAN 400 years after the Dutch East India Company established the shipping routes that would shape world trade for centuries, the Netherlands continues to be at the centre of global commerce.
As well as its role as a major financial centre, Amsterdam's evolution as one of world's most vibrant technology locations persuaded Scottish translation company founder Christian Arno to decide to set up a base there late last year.
"It is becoming a real hub for ecommerce, which is where our experience and technology have most positive impact," explains Arno of Lingo24.
The fact that Amsterdam has the highest concentration of Lingo24 clients outside London highlights the extent to which the Dutch capital is a global business centre.
In fact, eight of Lingo24's top 30 accounts have significant operations in the Netherlands.
The scale of the opportunity for further growth has seen two senior Lingo24 employees re-locate to the Netherlands to support existing clients and develop new ones.
Lingo24 has joined a 400-plus British contingent of companies which has already established bases in the Netherlands.
Within the EU, the Netherlands is Scotland's largest export market. Although its position as a trade hub means a sizeable proportion of the PS2.1bn worth of goods which head there each year are en route elsewhere - a factor known as the Rotterdam effect in reference to the world's largest port - it is a sizeable market its own right.
The Netherlands is the fourth most densely populated country in the world, boasts the 16th largest economy and the sixth largest in the European Union. It relies heavily on foreign trade, with exports and imports accounting for around 70 per cent of GDP.
The country's long-standing position as a world centre of trade has made it one of the easiest countries in Europe to do business in.
With a population around three times that of Scotland living in a relatively compact area, good internal transport links also enable quick distribution across the country from the main transport hubs.
In addition, the Dutch tax system features a number of tax incentives available to overseas firms to stimulate innovation and investment.
But its well-placed location in Europe also means it is a very competitive marketplace. According to the World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Index it is the eighth most competitive economy in the world.
As well as being one of the closest overseas markets for the UK, it is also one of the world's most open economies and has a highly skilled, multilingual workforce. Ninety per cent of the Dutch population is fluent in English - the primary business language in the Netherlands - which makes it one of the easiest markets for UK firms in terms of the practicalities of doing business.
Edinburgh-based interactive design and virtual reality company Luma Interactive found its recent experience of working with Amsterdam city council a highly positive one and is already in discussion over further projects in the country.
The company had been invited to collaborate on a project to communicate plans to build a new suburb in central Amsterdam.
Using virtual reality and animation, Luma Interactive enabled city planners as well as the people of Amsterdam to visualise twenty-first century high-rise living alongside parks and nature reserves in the new Sluisbuurt development.
Luma created an interactive tool which communicated the design, incorporating fly-throughs and virtual reality experiences and which was a key part of the public consultation.
Production director Kevin Archibald said the firm's work proved to be a decisive factor in influencing the wide ranging public consultation on the project which was finally approved by Amsterdam City Council in November 2017.
"While we had a number of cooperative meetings in Amsterdam, it was straightforward to work in direct contact from our office in Edinburgh by shared computer screens and Skype," says Archibald.
"It was a really positive experience with a great working camaraderie developing across the international team working on this masterplan project. The Dutch really appreciated the quality of our expertise and skill of our work.
"One important decision was to quote all pricing in euros which gave the client a necessary stability while contracting internationally," says Archibald.
"We are already in discussion about future projects in Amsterdam and also widening our focus to the many international projects being designed in the Netherlands."
Although there are still many uncertainties over trading arrangements between the UK and the Netherlands and other EU countries post-Brexit, Lingo24's Arno is positive about the future prospects.
"For us, this move is about being close to customers, and being able to support them better. To my mind, Brexit offers more opportunity than threat, as the shift in exchange rates makes companies with a significant cost base in the UK more cost efficient than their rivals abroad," he explains.
"Our business enjoys a relatively natural hedge with customers, but more revenue in euros and dollars does help," he adds.
According to Marc Diepstraten, chairman of PwC in the Netherlands, the uncertain times which Europe is facing makes the country a highly attractive market to operate in.
"In a world that is rapidly changing, whether it is from an economic or political point of view, the Netherlands has proven to remain a stable country," he points out in a guide to doing business in the country.
"And perhaps just as important, the Netherlands continues to be a great place to live." | | IFACT FILE: Netherlands THE Netherlands is one of the most densely populated countries in the world. About 90 per cent of its 16 million inhabitants people are in cities with almost half of those inhabiting one of Europe's largest agglomerations, The Randstad.
This heavily populated area includes the Netherlands'four largest cities - Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht - plus others such as Almere, Delft, Dordrecht, Gouda, Haarlem, Hilversum, Leiden and Zoetermeer.
Of total Dutch exports eight per cent are destined for the UK, and 11 per cent of all Dutch imports come from the UK.
While we had a number of cooperative meetings in Amsterdam, it was straightforward to work in direct contact from our office in Edinburgh by shared computer and Skype Kevin Archibald, Luma (above)
Above: panorama of central Amsterdam