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U.K. Economy Falters as Brexit Looms. Amsterdam Sees Risks, and Opportunity.


“We had about 100 institutions that came to see us,” said Gerben Everts, a member of the executive board at the Netherlands Authority for the Financial Markets, which regulates financial services companies. “At least 30” had submitted applications for licenses to operate in the Netherlands, he added.

Ever since the June 2016 referendum that set Brexit in motion, the Netherlands has looked on with alarm. Britain is its third-largest trading partner, after Germany and Belgium. The port at Rotterdam is the largest in Europe. Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport is a major corridor for air cargo, and a crucial transit point for the Dutch flower industry.

Throw a wrench into any of that and large numbers of people are going to wind up poorer.

Mr. Kock, Amsterdam’s deputy mayor, is an economist by trade who once worked for the International Monetary Fund. The economy of Amsterdam’s metropolitan area is about 160 billion euros, about $181 billion, a year, he said. Brexit appears likely to shave about €1 billion off that total.

“That’s two or three thousand jobs,” he said.

In pursuit of compensation, the city’s economic affairs agency has been trying to attract new jobs.

Landing the European Medicines Agency was significant. The regulator employs 900 people. It is building an office tower that will be its new headquarters on the southern reaches of Amsterdam, across a highway from a futuristic hotel designed by the Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas.

With the regulator shifting here, Mr. Kock and his team have focused on attracting companies within its orbit, including drugmakers, law firms and insurance companies that serve the pharmaceutical industry.

The group conducts tours of Amsterdam, talking up the city’s attributes: swift internet links; a creative work force; an easily accessible airport with more than 300 direct connections to points around the globe.



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