Eastern Europe

Build a brighter future.

Eastern Europe is the EU’s fastest-growing and most promising region. The combination of a well-educated young population, relatively low labour costs and trade optimization within the EU make Eastern Europe highly attractive for business. The Covid-19 pandemic has created an urgency for operating closer to home, ensuring more control, accessibility and security.

Operating within the borders of the EU enables uncomplicated trade and relatively low-risk investments. Meanwhile, the EU is promoting sustainability in Eastern-Europe, by offering grants for sustainable investments in the region. 

These developments all create extensive business opportunities for Dutch companies in Eastern Europe!

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Poland

Poland is the most developed, diversified, and mature economy in Central and Eastern Europe. In 2019, Poland experienced economic growth of 4,15% and is one of the fastest-growing economies of Europe. In addition, the Polish economy is one of the most sustainable in the EU with a positive medium-term outlook.

Poland offers opportunities in various sectors. First, due to the fact that Poland is aging the healthcare system needs modernization. Many Polish hospitals need to be restructured, renovated, and expanded to keep up with developments in demographics, ambulatory care, and government requirements. There are also opportunities in E-health as this offers many solutions to problems such as an aging population, staff shortages, and long travel distances for rural residents. 

Sustainability is becoming increasingly important in Poland. The Polish government invests in electric heating systems and electric transport. In addition, they want to make electricity production more sustainable. This brings opportunities for companies who are active in the field of wind energy, electric transport, and energy efficiency. 

The agriculture sector has already grown considerably due to investments in modernization. In the coming years, the Polish government will focus on strengthening cattle breeding. They are focusing on agro logistics, dairy production, and pig breeding. This is interesting for Dutch companies focusing on biological agriculture. 

The rail sector is one of the largest in the European Union. Therefore, rail components, train control and signaling systems, and stock for passenger and freight transport are in high demand. 

Due to economic developments in Poland, the need for water is also increasing, bringing possibilities in the water management sector. They face problems such as drinking water shortage, drought, and insufficient retention levels. Dutch entrepreneurs have extensive experience in the field of water management, bringing opportunities.

Czech Republic

The Czech economy experienced an economic growth of 2.34% in 2019. After contracting sharply in 2020 due to COVID-19, GDP is projected to recover by 3.3% and 4.9% in 2021 and 2022, respectively. The Czech Republic’s economy presents opportunities in several sectors, including renewable energy, waste management and the automotive sector

First, the Czech Republic aims to obtain about 22% of its total energy consumption from renewable sources by 2030. To achieve this goal, the country will set up a modernization fund in 2021 with over 4 billion euros in investment subsidies. For Dutch companies, this offers opportunities in the field of biomass, solar energy, wind energy, the energy efficiency of buildings, and district heating. 

At this moment, the country does not recycle a lot of its waste. A lot of waste ends up in landfills. The Czech Republic aims to recycle more and landfill less. By 2030, only 10% of municipal waste may be landfilled. Unprocessed and recyclable material may not be landfilled at all. This offers opportunities in the areas of, among others, the prevention of waste, the reuse and recycling of construction and demolition waste, and mechanical sorting technology.  

In addition, the country is a major player when it comes to producing buses and passenger cars. This offers opportunities for suppliers. In addition, they want to focus more on design and R&D within the automotive industry. 

Last, the design and architecture sectors are growing. Dutch designers are in the spotlight during designblok, the most important Czech design event. Architecture also offers many opportunities. Dutch architecture is known in the Czech Republic as innovative, sustainable, and energy-efficient.

Besides this, there are more opportunities in Slovakia, for example in the following sectors: 

  • Circular economy
  • Consumer goods
  • Electronics
  • ICT

Slovakia

Slovakia had an economic growth of 2,4% in 2019. Expecting an economic growth of 4,2% in 2021 and 5,2% in 2022. As well as economic growth the export and import value, being 1.6 billion and 1.2 billion euros respectively, is rising for several years. 

Slovakia offers many business advantages, such as relatively low wage costs for talented, adaptable, and trained employees, foreign languages are spoken at a fairly high level and they have an entrepreneur-friendly climate.

The economy of Slovakia offers multiple possibilities. One of the most promising sectors is the automotive industry. In 2020, Slovakia produced an estimated 1.3 million cars, being one of the largest car manufacturers in the world. The government has ambitious plans to make the automotive industry more sustainable, focusing on electric cars. The increase in car production has led to an increase in the car parts sector in Slovakia as well. 

Besides the automotive industry, the mechanical engineering industry is of large importance in Slovakia. Currently, it is facing environmental challenges and increased competitive pressure from both existing and emerging markets (e.g. the BRIC countries). They must respond by applying new technologies and innovations, reducing costs and optimizing the production process.

Hungary

In 2019, Hungary recorded an economic growth rate of 4.93%. After a decrease during COVID-19, they expect an increase in growth of 4% in 2021 and 4,5% in 2022. The Dutch exports to Hungary have grown rapidly. In 2013, we still exported around 2.5 billion which increased to 4.3 million in 2019. That is an increase of 72%. 

Hungary offers opportunities in several sectors. The healthcare sector in Hungary is in need of modernization. The government uses EU funds to improve public health care. In addition, private healthcare is in need of innovative technology and e-health solutions. This brings opportunities such as improving the public health infrastructure and constructing a high-tech hospital. 

Due to its central location, Hungary gives access to all parts of Europe and is becoming an important distribution point worldwide. Transport and logistics are well developed and the costs are low, offering opportunities for Dutch companies in transport and logistics.  

An important sector in the Hungarian economy is agriculture, which still has a lot of room to grow. This sector is not yet applying the circular concept to a large amount. Dutch knowledge and experience can help to develop Hungarian agriculture.

In addition, many major batteries and car manufacturers and their suppliers are active in the Hungarian automotive industry. For example Audi, Mercedes, Opel, SK Innovation and Samsung SDI. 

In addition to the above sectors, Hungary offers even more opportunities. For example in life sciences & health and water management.

Romania

The Romanian economy has experienced great economic growth in 2017 (7%) and 2019 (4%). After COVID-19, the economy should recover slowly in 2021 and 2022 with annual growth rates of around 3%.

Romania offers many business opportunities in the agricultural and horticultural sectors. For example, there is a need for modernization in the Romanian fruit sector. In addition, there are opportunities in the export of fruit itself. Dutch companies exported fruit and nuts for an amount of 88 million euros to Romania in 2020. 

To comply with current EU legislation, Romania has to catch up in the area of waste management. Regarding expertise as well as practical implementation, offering opportunities for Dutch companies. 

There are also opportunities in the healthcare sector. Due to relatively low domestic production, there is a great need for medicines and medical devices in Romania. Data company Statista estimates that sales of pharmaceutical, medical and orthopedic goods will continue to increase during the corona pandemic. 

In addition to the above-mentioned sectors, there are even more opportunities in Romania, for example in ICT and automotive.

Bulgaria

The Bulgarian economy recorded good results in 2018 and 2019 with respectively 3.1% and 3.7% growth. After a decrease in economic growth due to COVID-19, the OECD states that Bulgaria will resume growth in 2021, pushing forward a growth rate of 3.3%. 

The Bulgarian Economy offers opportunities in various sectors, including agriculture. Due to the favorable weather and the fertile soil, the agricultural sector offers good opportunities for Dutch entrepreneurs. Bulgarian farmers are very interested in Dutch knowledge and technology. There are opportunities for Dutch companies in the areas of professionalizing food production, strengthening (agricultural) infrastructure, greening cities with the help of horticulture, and sustainable rural development.

In addition, ICT is one of the fastest-growing sectors in Bulgaria, in particular software development. Important ICT hotspots are Sofia, Plovdiv, Varna, and Burgas. 

The infrastructure in Bulgaria still has many opportunities to fully develop. The country has a strategic and interesting location for transport services and knows several important transport routes. Among other things, there is a need for new logistics centers and warehouses. 

Bulgaria offers more opportunities in: 

  • Outsourcing of business processes
  • Chemistry and pharmaceuticals
  • Electrical engineering and electronics
  • Automotive industry and machine building
  • Healthcare and medical services
  • Tourism