The chaos surrounding the daunting Brexit process has signaled plenty of trouble for the British economy.
For starters, Honda, a reliable employer in the United Kingdom for decades, is closing its Swindon factory and scrapping plans for new factories in Britain. Thousands of jobs are going away.
It’s not just the carmakers leaving the UK. Banks are moving to Frankfurt, Airbus is probably pulling out, and North American and Japanese firms are leaving in droves. A trillion dollars in assets are being shifted from the UK to the rest of Europe.
Many UK companies aren't venturing far, though — to the Netherlands.
It’s Jeroen Nijland’s job to convince businesses that the Netherlands is their best bet for safe harbor. He’s the commissioner of the Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency, which assists companies looking to set up shop in the country. The agency does everything from organizing fact-finding missions to arranging meetings with partners.
Ever since the Brexit process started, Nijland and his colleagues have been extra busy. Their workload has tripled, and they’ve had to take on more staff to meet the demand.
“We are working on 250 Brexit-related products; 250 is also not the maximum of the projects for us,” Nijland said. “It will continue to grow as insecurity is still there. Half of the companies moving over were UK companies, and a quarter were North American companies.”
Nijland says that as chaos around Brexit drags on, it's forcing a lot of UK-based companies who were considering moving across the English Channel last year to finally do it now.
Jeroen Nijland, commissioner of the Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency
“What investors really are looking for is a stable environment. These are strategic decisions that involve a lot of money. ... They can only make these decisions in an orderly way if the environment is predictable. If you want to do something for investors, this is one of the best things you can do.”