The Netherlands ranks first in terms of the SME business climate among European countries, thanks to a high score in terms of export opportunities, low red tape, supportive financing conditions and labor market flexibility. On the ex- port side, 9.2% of total SMEs are export- ing, against 5.5% on average for peers. Trading across borders is very easy in terms of time (one hour) and documents. The cost of exporting is close to 0 against more than 170 USD for advanced economies. In terms of financing, although SMEs in the Netherlands face a slightly higher cost compared to Germany or France (2.4% vs. 2.0% and 1.6%, respectively), finance availability is considered to be excellent/good for 40% of SMES and only 14% of SMEs registered a loan rejection in the past 12 months (against 19% on average for peers).
On the negative side there are two components: competition and tax policy. Dutch companies would describe corporate activity as intense (a score of 5.2 over 7, which is considered extremely intense). This is similar to Germany, but higher than Belgium and France for example. In terms of tax, Dutch SMEs benefit from a special regime with a corporate tax at 20%, 5pp less than the base tax rate. However, the gap is smaller when compared to Belgium (9pp) or France (16pp), for example. Hence, reducing the corporate tax on SMEs further, as planned in the 2020 Budget (to 15% in 2021), is a positive move as it would give 1pp of additional margin to Dutch SMEs.