Dutch Economy Flourishes as Exports Drive Strong Growth

The Dutch economy has experienced robust growth following the COVID-19 pandemic, outperforming other eurozone economies. This success can be attributed to the country’s resilience during the crisis and its strong recovery driven by export growth in 2021 and 2022, according to the Central Planning Bureau (CPB). Furthermore, the Netherlands is gradually reducing its dependence on Germany, its primary trading partner.

The Netherlands has historically relied on Germany for economic stability, with the well-known saying, “If Germany sneezes, the Netherlands catches a cold.” However, this is no longer entirely accurate. While Germany remains a significant market for Dutch export products, its importance is diminishing. This trend became apparent during the COVID-19 crisis, as Dutch exports continued to grow while the German economy stagnated.

Diverse Export Growth
The growth in Dutch exports extends beyond Germany. The CPB highlights three types of exports: goods and services produced or processed in the Netherlands, re-exports (goods of foreign manufacture that are imported and then exported without substantial processing), and transit of goods passing through Dutch territory. The Netherlands experienced an increase in exports and re-exports to other European countries, particularly Eastern and Northern Europe, as well as to the US and Asian nations like China. The expansion of the EU and China’s rising economic importance have played a significant role in benefiting the Dutch economy.

Changing Trade Partners
The Netherlands’ reliance on Germany for exports has gradually declined over the years. In 1980, Germany accounted for 30% of Dutch exports, but by 2021, this figure had decreased to 23%. The share of Dutch exports to Belgium, France, and the United Kingdom has also reduced, with Brexit being a significant factor in the decline of exports to the UK. The most important trading partners after Germany are now Belgium (11% of Dutch exports), France (8%), the United Kingdom (6.5%), the US (5%), Italy (4.5%), and China (2.5%).

Economic Impact of Dutch-Made Products
Dutch-made products play a crucial role in international trade, generating substantial earnings for the country. In 2020, for every euro of export value, the Netherlands earned 56 cents on goods, amounting to 120 billion euros. In the service sector, the added value was 63 cents per euro, contributing 100 billion euros. Re-exports, on the other hand, yielded 14 cents per euro of export value, totaling 34 billion euros in 2020.

The Netherlands: The Gateway to Europe
With its flourishing trade economy in Europe and beyond, the Netherlands, particularly Rotterdam, has earned the moniker “the world’s gateway to Europe,” as stated by the CPB. This recognition emphasizes the country’s significant role in facilitating international trade and commerce.

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