The Netherlands largest EU importer of soy, palm oil and cocoa

The Netherlands is a major importer of products that are linked to deforestation and land degradation by the European Commission. Examples include commodities such as soy, palm oil and cocoa. In 2022, the Netherlands was the EU’s largest importer of goods from outside the EU that are associated with deforestation. The majority of these goods are ultimately re-exported again. The food industry is the largest user of these goods in the Netherlands. This is reported by Statistics Netherlands (CBS) in the latest Internationalisation Monitor.
In May of this year, the European Council adopted new rules to prevent consumption and trade within the EU from causing further deforestation and degradation of forest ecosystems. Deforestation and forest degradation are mainly driven by the worldwide expansion of agricultural land. Concrete examples of deforestation-linked imported goods include soy, cattle and beef, palm oil, wood, cocoa and coffee as well as any derivatives thereof.

In terms of import value, the Netherlands is the largest EU importer of soy, palm oil and cocoa (as well as the related products) from outside the EU. Furthermore, the Netherlands is the second largest EU importer of non-EU wood and cattle and related products, as well as the sixth largest EU importer of coffee; the latter often enters the Netherlands via Germany and Belgium.
Wood imports have more than doubled in two decades
The largest volume growth in these imports from outside the EU since 2002 is in wood (+125 percent), followed by cocoa (+67 percent), cattle (+53 percent) and palm oil (+19 percent). The import volume of coffee has declined slightly (-2 percent) and soy imports have fallen by 21 percent.

Main non-EU country of origin is Brazil
Brazil is the largest supplier outside the EU of deforestation-linked goods to the Netherlands. The import value of such goods from Brazil stood at 3.2 billion euros in 2022. These were mainly soy and wood or wood products. The United States is the second largest supplier of soy and wood after Brazil. In third place is Ivory Coast, which supplies mainly cocoa beans. China is a major source of wooden furniture, while Indonesia and Malaysia mainly supply palm oil. Among the top 10 origin countries from outside the EU are also the United Kingdom (mainly wood), Uruguay (wood and cattle), Argentina (cattle and soy) and Ghana (cocoa).

The bulk of imports is ultimately exported
Dutch imports from within the EU also include goods that are linked to deforestation. These are mainly wood and wood products from Germany, Belgium and Sweden. The import value of wood and wood products even exceeds that of all other deforestation-linked products combined.

A share of 28 percent in total Dutch imports of deforestation-linked goods (excluding quasi-transit trade) is exported again without further processing. Thirty-three percent leaves the country after processing in the Netherlands, and 39 percent stays in the Netherlands (for direct consumption or processing). Wood, coffee and cattle are relatively most likely to stay in the Netherlands after import. Cocoa is re-exported relatively often. Palm oil and soy are relatively often processed in the Netherlands and then exported.

Food industry main user of deforestation-linked goods
The destination of goods that are not re-exported immediately after imports can be broken down by industry. The food industry accounts for the largest share in domestic processing. It is also the only industry that uses all categories of goods linked to deforestation. The largest users after the food industry (the paper industry, construction, furniture industry, and business services) solely use wood. In addition, imported wood has increasingly been used as woody biomass for the energy supply in recent years. Accommodation and food services use relatively large volumes of imported beef.
Food industry mainly processing for the rest of the world
The bulk of deforestation-linked import products that are processed by the food industry eventually end up abroad. In 2021, this share stood at 79 percent. The remaining 21 percent remains in the Netherlands. In the other industries (combined), 58 percent stays in the Netherlands while 42 percent is re-exported. The construction sector, for instance, only processes wood; 91 percent is used within the Netherlands, while only 9 percent is destined for foreign markets.

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