Trade surplus over 9.5 billion euro

At just over 9.5 billion euro, the surplus on the Dutch balance of trade was 76% higher in the first five months of this year than in the corresponding period last year.

Increase in trade surplus

The main factor pushing up the surplus on the balance of trade was the smaller trade deficit for machinery and electrical equipment, which fell from 1.9 to 0.4 billion euro. Trade in minerals (incl. petroleum and natural gas) resulted in a positive balance of 0.8 billion euro in the first five months of 2001, compared with a deficit of 0.7 billion for this sector in the same period last year. The positive balance for chemical products - the largest contributor to the trade surplus - rose by 1.1 billion to just over 4 billion euro.

Balance of trade per sector, Jan-May 2001 compared with Jan-May 2000

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In terms of value, exports of machines and electrical equipment, chemical products and minerals account for more than half of all Dutch exports.

Exports of plants, foodstuffs, animals and animal products are worth less but, but still contribute substantially to the total trade surplus. Without products from this sector the balance of trade for the first five months of this year would show a deficit of nearly half a billion euro. The trade surplus for live animals fell slightly because of the foot-and-mouth crisis. The single export items generating the largest positive balance are natural gas, gas oil, flowers, cigarettes, tractors, computers and cheese.

Trade deficit: petroleum and cars

Imports of crude petroleum generate the largest deficit: 4.9 billion euro in the first five months of this year. This is nearly 13% more than last year. The rise was mainly caused by the increase in the quantities of imported oil. The price of petroleum rose by 2%.

Although trade in transport equipment accounts for 5% of the total value of exports, the sector has the highest trade deficit. Most of this is caused by imports of cars: in the first five months of this year nearly 3.5 billion euro worth of cars were imported into the Netherlands, 2% more than in the same period last year. The number of cars imported was down by 4%, while the average import price was nearly 7% higher.

Share of export value by sector, Jan-May 2001

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Ger Moritz