October 4, 2014

Fruit grower blames Russians for publicity

Filed under: Food & Drink by Branko Collin @ 10:59 am

imageIf you want to get cheap apples, starting today you can get them in Zeeland for 50 cents per kilogram. Martin Duivekot from Vrouwenpolder has 80,000 kilogram Jonagold apples and nowhere to put them, or so newspaper PZC claims.

Apprently now that the Russians have closed the borders to European fruit, traders won’t touch his apples. The apples need to be harvested, Duivekot says, in order to make sure his trees still produce fruit next year. The European Union will buy his apples for 6 cents per kilogram, but having them picked professionally costs 10 cents per kilogram. I am sure you see the problem there.

That’s when Duivekot stumbled on the solution of letting consumers pick his apples for him. Considering though that picking your own fruit is a service offered by many farmers around the world even outside times of international tension, one might entertain the possibility this is little more than a publicity stunt.

(Photo by Alessio Maffeis, some rights reserved)

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November 14, 2012

The Netherlands’ reputation as a tax haven is alive and well

Filed under: General by Orangemaster @ 11:20 am

Last year, The Guardian wrote a column on how the Netherlands is a tax haven for multinationals. In fact, if you Google ‘Netherlands’ and words like ‘tax avoidance’ or ‘tax haven’, you’ll see how gladly the country enables companies like Amazon, Google and Starbucks.

Back in 2002 Portugal got pissed when they calculated the insane amount of money they were losing to the Netherlands, while Dutch telly pointed out that “empty shell corporations pump 8,000 billion euro through the Netherlands”.

It’s bad enough the country’s 16.5 million residents have to deal with explaining themselves when it comes to prostitution and drugs, what we could do without is having to explain why our government wants to be the whore and pusher of corporations. Grab a hot beverage and read The central role of Dutch financing companies in tax avoidance strategies.

In the Netherlands, complex tax law constructions apparently allow companies to show losses in one or more countries to pay taxes at a lower rate in another. While most of it is probably legal, like many capitalist constructions, it screws billions of people over around the world. And the Netherlands thinks that’s ethically fine for some reason.

If you want more information, this is also a nice read from the Netherlands Comparative Law Association. The conclusion says a lot: “The Netherlands has a long-standing tradition of providing tools to address tax avoidance.”

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July 15, 2012

Automobile repair companies face crisis

Filed under: Automobiles by Branko Collin @ 9:52 am

Dutch car repair shops are having a tough time. Their turnover has been dropping for years, NOS reports, and it’s all got to do with improved safety of both cars and roads.

The news site says safety improvements to cars, such as automatic parking systems and adaptive cruise control, prevent accidents. Car crashes have further been reduced due to the replacement of many crossroads by roundabouts.

Trade organisation Focwa believes that turnover will drop by several percent in 2012.

With regards to road safety Eamelje (where we found this story) adds that the 2,000 alcoholsloten (ignition interlock devices) that have been installed in cars in the Netherlands are good news on the one hand, but on the other, a bitter reminder of how many drivers overestimate their ability to keep a heavy vehicle under control. An ignition interlock device is a breathalyser coupled with a car lock. Before starting the motor, the driver must exhale into the device. If the blood alcohol level is too high, the car won’t start.

NOS reports that these devices cost 4,000 euro apiece, and that convicted drivers must pay for the device themselves. Convicted drivers are also legally limited to driving cars with these devices installed—bad news for professional drivers. Only Sweden and the Netherlands make use of ignition interlock devices on a large scale. Experienced drivers that have been caught with a 0.13% blood alcohol level are typically convicted to use these devices.

Twenty percent of all traffic deaths in the Netherlands are connected to drunk driving—130 of 661 road deaths in 2011.

(Photo by Photocapy, some rights reserved)

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February 3, 2012

Dutch tax haven angers Portuguese

Filed under: General by Branko Collin @ 6:21 pm

A 2002 tax agreement between the Netherlands and Portugal has led 18 of the 20 largest Portuguese corporations to move their headquarters to the Netherlands.

This has led to 80% of all Portuguese investments being done in the Netherlands, De Pers reports.

The latest of these movers is Sociedade Francisco Manuel Dos Santos, owner of super market chain Pingo Doce (350 stores). The money drain in a time of crisis has led to calls for a boycott in Portugal.

The Portuguese government is now looking for ways to punish these companies for taking their tax payments elsewhere. De Pers has a tip based on what Brasil does: tax the tax flee-ers extra.

Dutch taxes for corporations are often low, and the Netherlands is the country with the most mutual tax agreements in the world.

The European Union has outlawed corporations that are not active in the country where they are legally located, but for some odd reason, the Dutch tax service sees no reason to check on companies that bring in a lot of money.

In 2009 TV show Zembla reported that these empty shell corporations pump 8,000 billion euro through the Netherlands, ten percent of all trade in the world.

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April 10, 2010

Oldest family-owned company of Amsterdam may leave the city

Filed under: Food & Drink,History by Branko Collin @ 5:09 pm

Spice trader Van Eeghen, founded in 1662, has put its Amsterdam office up for rent. According to Parool, the oldest family-owned company of Amsterdam is even considering leaving the city.

Van Eeghen is housed in the Sweedenrijk building on Herengracht 462, smack in the middle of the Golden Bend, an extension of the Herengracht created in 1663. Prospective owners were encouraged to buy double lots, with the result that the city’s most affluent would build their little palaces there.

“Nothing lasts for ever,” Willem van Eeghen (14th generation) told the paper. Most of the company’s activities take place in Canada these days, and only 20 people work at the Amsterdam office. The first two floors are now for rent for 250 euro per square metre, per year, which I am guessing is a steal for that location. If the right offer comes along, the company will even consider moving out altogether.

Perhaps the neighbourhood isn’t what it used to be. To the right of Van Eeghen is lawyer Bram Moscowicz, whose nickname is ‘maffiamaatje’ (mob buddy), and two doors to the left is a subsidiary of internet mogul Yahoo, supplier of dissidents to torture chambers since 2005.

According to Wikipedia, the oldest still existing company in the Netherlands is Brand (beer, 1340), although that example neatly displays the major flaw of that list: these days Brand is merely—nomen est omen—a brand of Heineken’s.

The image is a detail of Berckheyde‘s famous De Bocht van de Herengracht, painted in 1671. Sweedenrijk is in the middle of the frame, with Moscowicz’ slither attached to it. As you can see, the lot to the left was still unoccupied that year.

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March 2, 2010

First digital magazine on Japanese affairs

Filed under: General,Literature by Orangemaster @ 11:04 am

In 2009 the Netherlands and Japan celebrated their 400th anniversary of trade relations. The story goes that back in 1609 shogun Tokugawa Iesayu issued an official trade permit to the Netherlands. Although the Portugese were the first Westerners to show up in Japan back in the mid 16th century, they were more preoccupied with pushing religion than doing business and eventually left. They did leave words like ‘tempura’ behind that most people still think is Japanese.

(I can’t believe the introduction to Japan course I had to take to finish my university studies because it fit my schedule is actually of some use!)

Another huge link between the two countries is the Tokugawa shogunate’s desire to learn about all things Western, all while practicising a policy of isolation of Japan from the world. And so Japan developed ‘rangaku’ (‘Dutch Learning’, also meaning ‘Western learning’), with the Dutch as a unique source of information about medicine and science in general. History notes that the Japanese were pretty freaked out at seeing men with red hair for the first time.

And knowing that Japan is not only up to speed with the Western world, but can kick its backside any time it wants, business is still a major common point and apparently worthy of a new online magazine.

Download the first issue of the The Netherlands-Japan Review as a PDF for free. Articles are in Dutch and English.

(Link: breitbart.com. Illustration by 17th century artist Yoshida Hambei)

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August 27, 2009

Trading in your old bras for new ones

Filed under: Fashion,General by Orangemaster @ 12:10 pm

If you can trade in your old car or your old computer for a new one, why not your old bras? Thanks to Dutch lingerie brand Triumph, you can get 5 euro back to put towards the purchase of a new bra.

“It’s a tasteless stunt,” says Kledingbank Limburg (‘clothing bank’ for the poor in the southern part of the country), reminding us that underwear is the only thing you throw out and buy new. Underwear OK, but bras?

The more open-minded clothing bank in Haarlem thinks it’s a good idea because a new bra is very expensive and the used ones are sought after.

If you google around, you’ll see that tons of people do it and that it’s pretty common. Or they get creative and stuff them with plants.

(Link: fashionunited.nl, via bright.nl, photo: ecollo.com)

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March 2, 2008

Buy a bankrupt theme park’s attractions online

Filed under: General by Branko Collin @ 2:11 pm

Photo by Tuppus, some rights reserved.

Fairy tale theme park Land van Ooit (Land of Someday) has gone bankrupt, and its attractions will be sold during an online auction on Monday. Located in Noord-Brabant near Drunen, Land van Ooit pretended to be a country where visiting children were considered to be knights and knightesses. The park originally employed a lot of actors to make the theme come alive, but in later days when visitor numbers dwindled it resorted to fast rides to attract customers.

Online auction house Troostwijk will start receiving bids on Monday. The auction closes March 10. Troostwijk fear that a lot of people will use the viewing days (March 8 and 9) for a day out to a theme park. “Children will only be allowed in under supervision, and the rides may not be used,” according to Troostwijk’s Karel van Schoonevelt in DagjeWeg (Dutch). “There is a lot of interest in this auction,” he added. “It rarely happens that a theme park goes bankrupt.” The company will also charge an entrance fee of 2.50 euro.

Among the artefacts being auctioned are giants, giant furniture, dolls, the electronics to make it all come alive, lots of actual furniture, and so on.

Auction 1: Playground and catering equipment
Auction 2: Costumes and clothing accessories
Auction 3: Amusement park various

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