Dutch Expat Entrepreneurs in China- Where will Be Heading?

Apr. 15 – Although the Netherlands is small, but the Dutch is big, they pick up the Dutch courage to go extra miles for trade and business around the world. China is one of Dutch trading destinations. At this moment, there are proximately 454 Dutch businesses active in China, most of them are going well.

As China continues its demographic-driven path to a consumer-based society, it is no surprise to see a shifting of the expatriate population. Many arrived on the back of large MNCs, only 10 years later to find their China jobs localized as returning Chinese with excellent management skills, as well as Mandarin, English and other language capabilities begin taking their place.

One aspect of China that is changing is tax related, and still poorly understood. Just as Shenzhen boomed in the early 1990s, it had the lowest tax rates in China, so the entire makeup of China trade is also shifting. The reason why is not fully of China’s own making, the country’s age demographics are impacting upon China and it no longer boasts its past abundance of cheap, young labour.

Another aspect of China is becoming expensive. A trade bloc of 10 Asian nations, and all of them within easy reach of China’s markets, it is reducing tariffs on goods across Southeast Asia.  As China has a free trade agreement with 10 Asian nations, this development will change the nature of supply chains servicing the country. These two changes are altering both the type of expat needed in China, and also where they will best find success in Asia.

Some Dutch expats in China today have a fundamental problem – their Mandarin is not up to snuff. That can be hidden in cities such as Beijing and Shanghai with huge foreign populations and locals used to servicing them with English-language skills. Yet these cities are among the most competitive – and expensive – in China, and success is hard to come by.

Meanwhile, again, returning Chinese (students) are also searching for the best opportunities. Plus it’s not just the language barrier that presents a problem, China’s consumerism is taking off fastest in its second and third-tier cities – It is harder to succeed in a city such as Changsha than it is in Shanghai as a foreigner.

Yet such cities are exactly those that must be explored to capture the new opportunities that China now offers. The new China will belong to those prepared to be adventurous, Dutch expat in China is no exceptions here. However, we must say, the Dutch courage helps, there are no less business adventurous Dutch expat entrepreneurs in China.

An example is Erik de Waard (Owner at Tulip Pacific Ltd in China); he has been active in China since 2009, as a student Chinese at Shenzhen University, Summer Sabbatical at Cycling in China and Logistic Manager at Colossi Cycling. He demonstrates himself as a: dedicated, balanced combination of analytical & creative thinker. Background in Technology. Results driven. Team Player and coach. Like to work in changing environments.

While Dutch expats like Erik de Waard may well remain based in China, dependent upon how their HQ has structured their Asia presence, you can be sure that many Dutch expats based especially in Shanghai will be asked to take on additional responsibilities for Asia.

Here the presumption is that if you’ve succeeded in China you probably have the courage and ability to do it again elsewhere. Ultimately, it’s that expat magpie capability of being able to survive and prosper in different locations that defines the true expatriate entrepreneur. For report on “The Situation of Dutch Companies in China”available upon request, contact with DCCC, or mail to: info@dccchina.org