Manufacturing

   The industrialization of the Netherlands started late compared with neighboring countries, and this trade and busi ness country—with few raw materials—has never been heavily in dustrialized. Amechanized textile industry, for instance, started only after the Belgian separation of 1830 (in Twente and Northern Bra bant). The 19th century, however, was not completely lacking in Dutch industrial pioneers. Willem Albert Scholten (1819–1892), for example, created an empire of potato flour factories in the province of Groningen; Petrus Regout (1801–1878) founded a glass and pot tery enterprise in Maastricht; and Charles Theodoor Stork (1822– 1895) opened machine factories in Twente. Furthermore, the decades around 1900 marked the start of companies that would lead to the multinationals Unilever, Philips Electronics, Shell, and Akzo No bel. These manufacturing industries and others developed into an im portant part of the Dutch economy, particularly in the reconstruction period after 1945 with the boost of the Marshall Plan. In addition, more and more agricultural jobs and services became related to the industrial sector. During the 1960s, Dutch factories even needed for eign guest workers for unskilled and dirty jobs, despite the Dutch postwar population explosion.
   Since the 1970s, the Dutch industrial competitive position has de creased seriously as a result of high wages, environmental require ments, the rise in value of the guilder (and then the euro), and soli darity with less-developed countries. Restructuring led to the loss of many jobs and industrial branches that were too labor-intensive (e.g., textiles). Nevertheless, this process also saved many branches and has stopped further decline. After the bankruptcy of the aircraft builder Fokkerin 1996, for example, other Dutch companies proved to be more successful in specific parts of aircraft manufacture. An other stabilizing tendency of the past decades was the deconcentra tion of Dutch industries from the western provincesto the rest of the country. The dominant industries of the Netherlands in recent years have been foods and beverages (e.g., Unilever, Heineken, CSM, Van Melle, Douwe Egberts [Sara Lee Corporation], and Friesland Foods), petrochemicals, machines and metal (e.g., Corus), publishing and printing, and electronics (e.g., Philips and Oce copier systems). The importance of information and communications technology has be come huge for all of them.
   See also Shipbuilding.

Historical Dictionary of the Netherlands. . 2012.

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