Twice as many Chinese companies in the Netherlands

© Nikki van Toorn (CBS)
Over a span of five years, the number of Chinese companies located in the Netherlands nearly doubled, from 245 at the end of 2012 to 470 at the end of 2017. Their contribution to the Dutch economy almost quadrupled over the same period to more than 1 billion euros. Nevertheless, this is still much lower than the amount contributed by US companies, for instance. Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reports this on the basis of the most recent figures on foreign enterprises in the Netherlands.


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It concerns enterprises established in the Netherlands in which the majority stake is in Chinese hands. The gross value added contributed by these companies to GDP increased from 290 million euros in 2012 to 1,079 million euros in 2017. In the same period, staff numbers at these companies rose at a similar pace, from 3 thousand to 11 thousand. Expenditure on research and development increased correspondingly from 9 million euros (2012) to 31 million euros (2017). Since 2015, the contribution made by Chinese firms to the Dutch economy has grown much more rapidly than the number of such firms. This is due to some large acquisitions.

At the same time, a number of Dutch companies have offices in China (605 in 2017). Despite a decline (from 660 in 2012), their number still exceeds that of Chinese companies in the Netherlands.

Development of Chinese companies in the Netherlands, 31 December
JaarNumber of companies (2012=100)Gross value added (2012=100)Employees (2012=100)

4 in 10 Chinese firms operating in wholesale trade

Of the 470 companies under Chinese ownership in the Netherlands, 195 are active in wholesale trade, mainly in the non-food (70), ICT equipment (35) and industrial machinery (25) industries. When including retail trade and commission trade, there were 245 trading companies under Chinese ownership with a joint gross value added of 296 million euros in 2017 (on average, 1.2 million euros per company).

Highest gross value added in manufacturing

Sixty companies in Chinese hands are active in manufacturing. However, in 2017 the gross value added contributed by these companies was higher than of those in the trading sector (374 million euros), at least per company (on average, 6.2 million euros). The number of employees was almost the same in both trading and manufacturing at approximately 3 thousand. Relative to 2012, the number of industrial companies under Chinese ownership doubled, while the number of trading companies increased by 58 percent. Strong growth was recorded in the specialised business services sector in particular, from 25 to 70 companies. The gross value added contributed by this sector rose from 3 to 22 million euros, but remained modest at 2 percent of all companies under Chinese ownership.

Chinese companies in the Netherlands by industry, 31 December 2017
BedrijfstakNumber of companiesGross value added (million euros)
Transport and storage35141
Information and communication3050

Share of Chinese firms in the Dutch economy relatively small

At nearly 8 percent of all companies under non-EU ownership, the share held by Chinese companies in the Netherlands was relatively small in 2017. In 2012, this share was nearly 6 percent. Despite their faster growing economic importance over the same period, their role is much less prominent. For example, among non-EU enterprises their share in gross value added increased from 0.7 to 2.1 percent, the number of employees from 0.8 to 2.5 percent, and (internal) R&D expenditure from 0.9 to 2.8 percent.

The number of Chinese companies in the Netherlands is comparable to that of Japanese and Swiss companies, but their economic contribution is considerably lower. By far the highest contribution comes from US-owned companies, with six times as many companies, 31 times higher gross value added and 18 times as many employees as companies under Chinese ownership.

The United States ranks highest in number of companies established in the Netherlands (2,875), followed by Germany (2,190) and the United Kingdom (1,355).

Chinese companies as a share of total non-EU companies in the Netherlands
Jaar2017 (%)2012 (%)
Number of companies7.85.8
Gross value added2.10.7
Internal R&D expenditure2.80.9