Economy - Figures

International trade

International trade in goods continued to grow in 2018. The value of imports rose by 8 percent to 442 billion euros while exports amounted to 495 billion euros, up by 6 percent relative to 2017.

The category machinery and transport equipment represented 31 percent of the value of imports and 29 percent of the value of exports. Chemical products contributed 18 percent to the export value and 12 percent to the import value. The reverse was true for mineral fuels, which occupied a share of 14 percent in the export value and 18 percent in the import value.

In 2018, the highest value of imported goods came from Germany. Belgium and China were the second and third largest import country respectively. Imports from Norway showed the fastest growth; the import value of goods from this country was up by 36 percent relative to 2017.

Exports to Germany represented almost one-quarter of the total export value of goods. Belgium and the United Kingdom occupied second and third place respectively in terms of exports. Looking at the ten largest export countries, the strongest increase was seen in exports to the United States, by 20 percent. Goods exports to China showed the strongest decrease at 10 percent in value. The bulk of exports to the US and China were domestically manufactured products, whereas exports to Germany included more re-exports on balance.

The value of service imports amounted to 145.3 billion euros in 2014 while the export value amounted to 155.3. international services trade has increased: in 2018, the import value stood at 194.9 billion euros and the export value at 206.4 billion euros.

In 2018, Dutch imports of services amounted to 195 billion euros and exports to 206 billion euros. Both trade flows increased by one-third relative to 2014, representing an absolute growth of 50 billion euros in value. A peak in service imports was recorded in 2015. The increase in both service trade flows was the result of a one-time purchase of intellectual property in very large quantities.

In 2018, the top 3 trading partners of the Netherlands in services trade were Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States. Exports to Germany amounted to 27.3 billion euros while imports were worth 22.9 billion euros. In trade with the UK, imports amounted to 23.8 billion euros and exports 19.3 billion euros. Exports to the US amounted to 15.4 billion euros, imports were worth 21.3 billion euros.

The top trading partners for services are Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States. In 2018, these three countries had a combined share of 32 percent in Dutch international service trade, versus 38 percent in 2014. The importance of the United States in particular has declined: whereas the US represented 15 percent of service trade in 2014, this had dropped to 9 percent in 2018. Dutch international trade with the US decreased by 8.5 billion euros as a result.

Over 30 percent of last year’s trade in services concerned business consulting, management consulting and public relations. One-quarter of service trade involved royalties, mainly rights to resell software licences.

These business services represented the largest chunk of the international trade in services and also saw the highest increase in 2018. Relative to 2014, imports of other business services rose by 64 percent (25 billion euros), while exports were up by 50 percent (20 billion euros). Other notable increases were recorded in exports of royalties and travel services, both by around 40 percent. In imports, transport services recorded above-average growth: up by 40 percent relative to 2014.

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