Rotterdam – The Gateway to Europe
Covering a total area of 324.14 square kilometers, Rotterdam was estimated in 2015 to have a population of 623.652 people and a density of 2,850/km2. According to government figures compiled by the municipality, the majority (some 313,765 people) are Dutch nationals, while the remainder comprises other Western Europeans, Surinamese, Moroccans, and Turks.
Rotterdam’s history dates back to the 13th century, a small settlement located near a dam on the Rotte River. Gaining city status in the 14th century, Rotterdam today enjoys having the largest port in Europe, ranking as the third-largest in the world after Shanghai and Singapore.
Rotterdam is run by a city council and the Municipal Executive Committee, which comprises the Mayor and Alderman. The City Council of Rotterdam consists of 45 members and is elected by the people of Rotterdam every four years. The current mayor is Ahmed Aboutaleb, who was elected in January 2009.
Home to one of the world’s largest ports, much of Rotterdam’s economy and businesses are concentrated in this area. According to Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM), The combined (direct and indirect) value-added amounts to around 22 billion euro, which is roughly 3,7% of the Gross Domestic Product of the Netherlands.
As a central logistics hub, many international businesses locate their activities in the city, specializing in many sectors, including oil and (petro) chemicals, breakbulk, dry bulk, and agribusiness. The port and its industrial complex stretch for some 40 kilometers and guarantee the import and export of goods to about 350 million consumers. It is also home to the headquarters of merchant shipping leader AP Moller Maersk, owners of the renowned P&O, Nedlloyd.
Rotterdam boasts burgeoning healthcare and medical industry and hosts the most prominent university medical center in the Netherlands, the premier European research center. The creative sector also flourishes in the city, with over 250 creative companies developing games, animation, film, and high-end post-production.
Rotterdam has a long history of ties with the United States and the United Kingdom, but its leading trading partner continues to be Germany, collaborating closely with cities such as Cologne, Dresden, Dortmund, and Hamburg.
As one of the country’s most important cities, Rotterdam is no exception, offering exceptional infrastructure that is the result of substantial investment over past decades.
The city is linked to other major conurbations and neighboring countries by a network of well-maintained motorways, railways, and waterways. According to official port authority figures in 2021, Rotterdam’s port is the largest in Europe and the third-largest globally, transporting over 231.6 (+5.8%) million tons per year.
The city center operates a modern and efficient public transport system that consists of a metro system, trams, buses, and waterbuses. Rotterdam’s central railway station (Centraal) moves over 110,000 passengers per day, making it one of the busiest stations in the country. With the advent of new links to the HSL- South and RandstadRail services, passengers are expected to triple by 2025. The station currently operates frequent international services to Brussels, Paris, and Antwerp alongside extensive regional services to surrounding areas.
Rotterdam’s The Hague Airport is the Netherlands’s third-largest airport located 3 kilometers northwest of the city center. The airport operates several scheduled flights to other central European destinations like London, Madrid, and Prague.
Rotterdam’s Port employs some 180,000 people directly with an additional 56,000 indirect jobs. There are estimated to be around 380,000 workforces around Rotterdam’s Port.
Rotterdam has the highest percentage of foreigners from non-industrialized nations versus another part of the Netherlands, and although the labor force is predominantly Dutch, there are significant proportions of Surinamese, Turkish, Moroccan, and Aruban people. Dutch is the most widely spoken language, although, in 2021, it was estimated by the Rotterdam Investment Agency that 80% of the population spoke English as a second language.
The city enjoys a highly skilled and educated workforce that results from a well-developed education and training system. The city has several universities institutes and technical schools, one of the most renowned being Erasmus University. The University was founded in 1913, and present-day has seven faculties and over 31.149 (2018) enrolled students. The University also encompasses the Rotterdam School of Management, an internationally acclaimed institution that consistently ranks as one of the world’s best business schools.
Business Costs in Rotterdam
The Netherlands individual income tax rates work on a partly progressive scale of 0%-52%, with four tax bands. Residents are required to declare their worldwide income and not just what was earned within the country.
In terms of corporate taxes, the Dutch government has set the standard CIT (corporate income tax) rate stands at 25.8% as of 1 January 2022 (25% in 2021), making it one of the most competitive European markets and an attractive place for companies and investors.
The standard VAT rate in the Netherlands is 21%, while a reduced VAT of 9% can be applied to food, agriculture, and other essentials while specific sectors are exempt.
In 2021 the Netherlands set a minimum wage of € 1.745,00 per month (an increase from € 1,680,00) or €436 per week for adults aged 21 and older and over engaged in full-time work.
Rotterdam offered competitive location costs versus other major European cities, with an average office rental cost of €211/sq.m per year (approximately half of the average cost of office space in Amsterdam).