Between all of the talk concerning the European economic crisis and the increasing foreign debt to China, the economic ties between the United States and the Netherlands gets very little exposure, despite the two countries being extremely close partners. The US state government website even goes so far as to refer to the relationship with the Netherlands as “one of its oldest continuous relationships [which] dates back to the American Revolution.” And in November 2011, while meeting with Prime Minister Rutte, President Obama remarked that “we have no stronger ally than the Netherlands.”
But where these ties are most evident is in the consistent ranking of the Netherlands as one of the largest sources of foreign direct investors in the US, creating thousands of jobs and bolstering the economy even during tough times. In the same speech cited above, Obama called to light the fact that the Netherlands is one of the biggest trade partners with the US, saying “despite the fact that the Netherlands doesn’t have a huge population, they are one of our most important trading partners… We are one of the largest investors in the Netherlands. The Netherlands, in turn, is one of the largest investors in the United States.”
As a result, these trade relations have created enormous impact on the ground in both countries. In 2011, it was estimated that roughly 700,000 jobs in the US were a direct result of foreign investment from the Netherlands. A recent report indicated that the Netherlands accounts for over 100,000 jobs in the state of Texas alone, with Dutch foreign direct investments in the state totaling $9.4 billion dollars. Additionally, the combined investments of the Netherlands in the nationwide US economy were more than that of China, India and Russia put together.
The reason for the strength of these ties is multi-faceted, but many attribute them to shared economic and cultural traits. The Dutch Ambassador Renee Jones-Bos said in 2011 that “our economic bond has been forged by four centuries of shared ideals, business values and a commitment to entrepreneurism.” The US state department cited free trade and both countries having a “liberal economic outlook” as reasons for the continued relationship.
However, another and even more pertinent reason underlying the importance of the relationship is that the Netherlands has proven to be a much more robust economic force than many of its neighboring countries. As Italy sways under the burden of debt, attempting to avoid the fate of fellow EU member Greece which is currently fighting against bankruptcy, the Netherlands remains a stable and highly competitive place to do business, especially for US investors.
The sum result is that the two countries continue to be amongst the economically linked in the world, to the point where the Netherlands established a national holiday commemorating these bilateral relations called Dutch American Friendship Day celebrated each year on April 19th. And as the European economic situation worsens, the US may just wish it had more friends like the Dutch.