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.
The Hague, Heerlen, Bonaire, November 2020