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The Netherlands has strong trading links with the rest of the world. It achieved a new export record last year with a total export value of 516 billion euros. In 2018, 34 percent of Dutch GDP and about 2.4 million full-time jobs in the Netherlands – or around one-third of total employment – were related to exports of goods and services. In times of growing world trade, the Netherlands benefits from such an open economy. The flipside of the coin became visible in recent months, when foreign suppliers and buyers cut back sharply or even went into lockdown, and tourists chose – or were obliged – to stay at home en masse.

Many of the figures in this publication concern the years up to and including 2019. To do justice to the fact that 2020 is an atypical year, there is a ‘corona box’ at the beginning of this publication. This box contains a few economic indicators that concisely describe sentiment among Dutch entrepreneurs and consumers in the first half of 2020, as well as the state of aviation and international trade. The CBS website and the dossier on the impact of coronavirus present the latest figures on the state of the economy, employment and social developments.

The concept of the Netherlands as a trading nation often implies large enterprises and multinationals. This is not unjustified, as these enterprises account for a large proportion of trade in goods and services and are also responsible for a large share of export growth. However, a third of the 1.2 million independent SMEs in the Netherlands are also active in international trade. The enterprises that trade in goods or services are therefore far from being a uniform group. Being a trading nation also means that the Netherlands acts as a distribution hub. Many goods enter the European Union through the Netherlands and this was also reflected in 2019, as re-exports grew slightly more strongly than domestic exports. Somewhat more exports are currently going to distant countries, such as China and the US, while re-exports are mainly destined for neighbouring countries of the Netherlands. As well as being a trading nation and a distribution hub, the Netherlands is also a major investment country. The Netherlands is high on the list of the top 10 investment countries, even when investments by or through Special Purpose Entities are excluded.

More news and reports in the field of globalisation, as well as the Internationalisation Monitor, can be found in our dossier.

Director General

A. Berg

The Hague, Heerlen, Bonaire, November 2020


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More information (in Dutch only):

Explanation of symbols

. Data not available
* Provisional figure
** Revised provisional figure
x Publication prohibited (confidential figure)
(Between two figures) inclusive
0 (0.0) Less than half of unit concerned
empty cell Not applicable
2019–2020 2018 to 2019 inclusive
2019/2020 Average for 2018 to 2019 inclusive
2019/’20 Crop year, financial year, school year, etc., beginning in 2019 and ending in 2020
2017/’18–2019/’20 Crop year, financial year, school year, etc., 2017/’18 to 2019/’20 inclusive

Due to rounding, some totals may not correspond to the sum of the separate figures.

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Nieke Aerts

Marcel van den Berg

Sarah Creemers

Hans Draper

Loe Franssen

Marjolijn Jaarsma

Alex Lammertsma

Tom Notten

Tim Peeters

Leen Prenen

Janneke Rooyakkers

Khee Fung Wong

Editorial team

Sarah Creemers

Marjolijn Jaarsma

Alex Lammertsma

Editors in chief

Marjolijn Jaarsma

Alex Lammertsma


We would like to thank the following colleagues for their constructive contributions to this edition of Dutch Trade in Facts and Figures:

Deirdre Bosch

Linda Bruls

Elijah Cats

Richard Jollie

Bart Loog

Pascal Ramaekers

Carla Sebo-Ros

Roos Smit

Sandra Vasconcellos

Gabriëlle de Vet

Roger Voncken

Hans Westerbeek

Hendrik Zuidhoek

We would also like to thank the following members of staff at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for their feedback on a forerunner of Dutch Trade in Facts and Figures:

Tom Beerling

Laurens den Hartog

Harry Oldersma