Industry in the Netherlands

To achieve the principal objectives of Dutch policies on employment, a stable balance of payments, economic growth and environmental conservation, it is essential to strengthen the business sector, starting with industry, the WRR concludes in its report Industry in the Netherlands: its Place and Future (Report no. 18, 1980).

Strengthening the business sector is essential

The development of employment in Dutch industry differs from that in other countries in Western Europe. The heart of the problem is the strong specialisation in specific sectors of the Dutch economy. The WRR believes that the Netherlands should focus on upgrading the intermediate sector (such as oil, chemicals and steel), revitalising vulnerable sectors such as textiles and furniture, and strengthening the machine and equipment building, electrical engineering and transport equipment sectors.

With targeted and generic policies

The requisite strengthening of the business sector calls for a combination of targeted and generic policies. Specific policies recommended by the WRR include the creation of a government commission and the establishment of a National Development Agency. An appropriate generic policy targeted at aspects such as the operation of the labour market is also required. To improve the general industrial climate, the WRR advocates intensification of international trade policy among other things.

The report is accompanied by a minority opinion by WRR member Professor A.H.J.J. Kolnaar.