General country branding remains important for the Dutch. In this fast changing world we, the Dutch, have to compete for attention. There are more and more upcoming economies and the assumption that others know (all about) The Netherlands might be a bit arrogant on our side. Do we really believe that the new generations of business leaders in for example China are aware of all innovations the Dutch have to offer? Or that they are still aware of the existence of far away and small country, just 0.4% the size of China?
What do the Locals Think?
In Turkey, but also in previous postings like Hong Kong, I was often asked the question what the local business community thinks about The Netherlands. My first reaction is that this question should be preceded by another: “do others know anything at all about The Netherlands?” Let’s face it, the possibility of us hardly being known at all is a serious matter. Not being known means running the risk of already missing the first selection round before any decision making….
After one year and countless discussions with Turkish business people I can safely say that knowledge in Turkey about the economic strength of The Netherlands is a bit shallow, definitely more than I had ever expected. When it comes to business decisions Turkey tends to think about the UK, Germany or France. Not about The Netherlands. When it comes to studying abroad, The Netherlands is unfortunately low on the list of Turkish students. Yes, there is the so called ‘tulip connection’, we are known for our soccer players and our agriculture, but that is it, more or less.
In Turkey, as in many other countries, people do not realize that The Netherlands is one of the most advanced economies in the world and that we are the world leader in over 20 smaller and bigger market niches. We are the second agricultural exporter in the world, and we also lead in many high-tech sectors like the chip producing machines by ASML or in the innovative materials by technology company TenCate.
TenCate is a Dutch company over 310 years old, from the east of The Netherlands; already before 1704 it was involved in the trade of textiles with England. For centuries it focused on textiles. In the 1980’s it, as many others, went through a difficult time, but by concentrating on new products it survived thanks to its innovations.
These days it has a turnover of over 1 bln Euro annually, employs more than 4,500 people worldwide, and is a global leader in sectors like artificial grass, protective clothing for the industry and army, including the US army, advanced composites for aerospace industry and geo-synthetics for water management and infrastructure. And it has acquired the prestigious “Royal” in front of its name already in 1854.
Royal TenCate is perhaps not widely known in Turkey, but it has delivered the fibers and backing for almost 70% of all artificial grass fields in Turkey. Few know that the 120.000 m2 artificial grass between the tramway tracks in Gaziantep have been installed by using the high-grade turf of TenCate.
As we like to say at our economic section: “stay in touch with the Dutch”.