We could learn a lot from the Dutch – Dutch Business Day was held at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Hajdú-Bihar County

Author: Czirbik Milán | February 21. 2018.

Since I have begun my work in September, this is my fifth visit to Debrecen, which is an important industrial centre of Hungary. It is a pleasure that we can rely on the Chamber as a strategic partner, since they are in contact with so many enterprises, with whom we would like to cooperate in the future – explained René van Hell, the Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands at the Dutch Business Day which was organized by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Hajdú-Bihar County and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Slogans of millions


In a relatively small area, with maximum efficiency, sustainable development in mind - 17 million Dutch joint efforts can be condensed into this single sentence. The Ambassador said that since Hungary has become a member of the European Union the number of Dutch investments has increased rapidly in the country; for example, the Dutch exports to Hungary are the same amount as to Brazil, a country with 209 million inhabitants. "I can think of great opportunities for cooperation in the areas of health, agriculture, fight against climate change and logistics. My home is the gateway to Europe, but Hungary lies in the intersection of many important routes, so we could work together very well in this regard. "


Do’s and Dont’s


Elzo Molenberg, Deputy Head of Mission of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, gave us some tips on how to behave when we would like to to work with a Dutch partner. "From a Hungarian point of view, the Dutch people may seem distant. They are pretty direct in communication and they quickly come to the point. However, do not be embarrassed. Although Dutch hospitality has evolved in recent years, do not be surprised when you get a slim dose on your dinner plate during a business dinner. It is important to speak at least one foreign language that your Dutch partner also understands. For us, the knowledge of one or more foreign languages is natural; the presence of an interpreter only makes the communication more difficult. Do not call the Netherlands as German-Great Plain because it suggests that you believe them to be Germans. Humour is permitted, but it is important to note that Dutch and Hungarian humour is quite different. Work and private life are much more separate in the Netherlands than in Hungary. You have to avoid political topics as you may not know which party your partner belongs to. At the Dutch companies, everyone has precisely stated job duties. You have to select a permanent contact person at your company. A negotiation with the Dutch would often end with signing a contract. If this pace is too fast, make it clear that building trust plays a major role in Hungarian corporate culture. Ask your Dutch partner to respect this. The distance between the boss and the subordinate is much smaller in the Netherlands than in Hungary as we believe in the principle of free discourse. We strive for consensus, but if the decision is made it is mandatory to implement it. A Dutch is more considerably a team player than a Hungarian. Keep in mind that the Dutch are more concerned with time than the Hungarians. It is also good to know that sustainability and social responsibility play a prominent role in the Dutch economy. At present, there are about 800 Dutch companies in Hungary with a capital investment of 9 billion euros – said the diplomat.


A Perfect Marriage?


Geert Kits-Nieuwenkamp, Agricultural Attaché started his presentation " The Dutch tomato and Hungarian paprika - a perfect marriage?"  by saying that Dutch agriculture is built on traditions on the one hand, and innovation and continuous renewal on the other hand. – When we talk about agricultural innovation, it means that we work together in the agricultural sector along the production chain to produce new types of products. This is essential in order to adapt to changing market needs. Although we are a small country, we are the second largest agricultural exporter in the world. A high level enterprise and corporate structure characterizes the Dutch agriculture. Our production rates are very high; for example, the quality of the Hungarian soil is much better than in the Netherlands, however, in an area of one unit we produce ten times as much of the product as you. We would be happy to pass on this knowledge. Education is an important source of the Dutch agricultural capacity, and it is well-known that a prestigious Agricaltural University operates in Debrecen. Farmers should strive for close cooperation with research institutes. The use of infocommunication technology is also inevitable in an advanced agricultural country. It is no longer impossible to feed the animal from home or to turn on the air conditioner in the barn by using a mobile phone. Obviously, these devices and methods must be used by the workers as well - he explained.


To Help Back and Forth


Éva Szabó, Trade Policy Advisor of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands began her speech by highlighting that the Netherlands was among the top three investors in Hungary. Fortunately, besides the big companies, Dutch SMEs are also well represented in the Hungarian economy. The only barrier to the expansion of these companies is the lack of workforce. - Health, logistics, smart city programs, agriculture and food industry – these are the areas where we can imagine the most extensive cooperation between our countries. We provide services to Dutch and Hungarian companies back and forth. Besides providing assistance to start-ups, we also help those who are already prospering well and ready to take the next step of development - she said.

Lóránt Kibédi Varga , the President of the Dutch-Hungarian Chamber of Commerce recalled that although the Chamber was founded only 15 years ago, there were strong connections between the two countries way before that. "We have almost 100 members, including those who entered the organization with learning and networking purposes. So you do not have to be Dutch to be a member of our Chamber. The board of directors is the governing board, we gather once a month to decide on strategic issues. But the real job is done by the apparatus. It is important to promote corporate social responsibility. We can help you with networking and partner search. We do not have many members, so it is possible to get to know each other and to establish a closer relationship, "he said.


Good, but in what kind of environment?


Endre Vojtek, Managing Director of DBH Group, spoke about the taxation and legal environment of establishing a company in the Netherlands. - In the Netherlands, the B.V. company form corresponds most to the ltd. There is no quoted capital requirement, you can establish a company for 1 Euro cent in the Netherlands. The foundation will take place in 1-3 days, and it is important to know that if there are at least two owners of the company, their identity will not be public. Decisions can be made without a community meeting. It is an interesting practice in the Netherlands that before someone establishes a company, one can have a meeting with a consultant from the tax authority and develop a plan for his future taxation. Corporate tax is a multiplicity of the Hungarian, but there are some fields with tax exemption. It is compulsory to involve a Dutch leader in the management of the company and it is not possible to set up a holding company merely to take advantage of tax benefits in the Netherlands - he warned the audience. (At the business day, the representatives of six Dutch businesses that operate in Hungary shared their experiences with the audience.)