In the wake of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union (EU) on January 31, a sense of uncertainty has loomed over the European continent and beyond. Perhaps Brexit’s largest impact will concern economic and trade-related issues.
Keeping a close eye on Europe’s changing economic landscape is Stan de Caluwe, senior manager of Supply Chain Solutions at the Holland International Distribution Council. De Caluwe discussed how the Dutch logistics industry is poised to benefit from Brexit’s disruption with FreightWaves CEO Craig Fuller on the FreightWavesTV show, “Fuller Speed Ahead.”
“Brexit will have very bad effects for the Dutch, U.K. and the European economies in a broader sense because global trade is a driver for economies,” de Caluwe said. “Having said that, for the Dutch logistics industry, [Brexit] also provides a very interesting opportunity.”
In post-Brexit Europe, de Caluwe said many companies moved their European dealings from the U.K. to the Netherlands. Examples include businesses from the U.S., Canada and Japan. According to de Caluwe, the U.K. has traditionally been a magnet for foreign companies to set-up shop because of its cultural relativity and language proximity. However, distribution centers are moving to the continent as firms factor the newly formed border between the U.K. and Europe into their financial equations.
“I think the footprint of overseas companies in Europe has changed for the long-term,” de Caluwe said. “The U.K. will no longer be a European distribution center because when you’re outside the EU 27 [27 nations that comprise the European Union] common market, it doesn’t really work.”
Brexit may cause global trade to divert south of the English Channel, much to the delight of Dutch logistics companies, according to de Caluwe.
“We’ve seen a warehouse boom in the Netherlands. Tens of millions of square feet of additional warehouse space has been built and a lot of it is already full,” de Caluwe said.
The Netherlands has also celebrated the relocation of the European Medicine Agency from the U.K. De Caluwe attributed its relocation as a reason for many pharmaceutical and medical companies setting up shop in the country as well.
From flowers to pharmaceuticals, the Netherlands has been a logistics and trading powerhouse for centuries. In fact, the world’s first stock exchange was established in Amsterdam in 1602. As de Caluwe noted, more than 10% of the country’s workforce is in logistics.
“The Netherlands has been trading for hundreds of years; it’s basically our bread and butter,” de Caluwe said.
However, the Netherlands isn’t the only nation benefiting from the U.K.’s exit. de Caluwe added that because of certain requirements to operate within EU markets, financial and broadcasting companies have also moved to countries such as France and Germany.