The Netherlands - Future trends
The most important event for the Dutch economy in the 21st century is the introduction of the euro and the subsequent discontinuation of the use of the guilder in 2002. With EMU, the Dutch will gain a number of advantages, including even lower transaction costs for importing and exporting goods with its EU partners. However, EMU will also mean that the Dutch have less control over their monetary policy, since a new European Central Bank will control most aspects of policy surrounding the euro. This might be problematic for the Dutch since the government has traditionally used monetary policy to help trade. EMU will probably mean that the Dutch will have to make a stronger effort to control inflation. This could potentially slow down the economy's rapid growth.
One potential domestic problem for the Dutch economy is that prosperity across the nation is not uniform. The northern regions tend to be less affluent and have less industry than the southern and western regions. In light of this problem, the government has initiated a variety of programs to attract new business to the less-prosperous regions. However, these programs have not had a major impact on the regions' economy yet.
The kingdom's abundant natural gas supply and its strong agricultural sector will help the nation do well even in case of an economic recession among the EU nations. Although the Dutch economy is dependent on foreign trade, exports of energy supplies and foodstuffs tend to remain strong even during economic downturns. In addition, the presence of a number of large, multinational firms in the country means that foreign trade is likely to continue to expand as these corporations persist in opening new markets for Dutch goods and services and provide access to new or less expensive products and services for Dutch consumers.
The expanding trade between the United States and the Netherlands also bodes well for the future of the Dutch economy. The United States remains the largest single market for products and services in the world. Because of their volume of trade with the EU and the United States, the Dutch have access to both of the globe's main consumer markets. Dutch trade with Asia continues to lag, however, and efforts to improve exports to the region have not been successful because of the competitive nature of the market and the area's economic slowdown in the late 1990s.