Exports are the driving force behind Dutch economic growth. Will this development continue further or will exports start to fall again? Expectations of manufacturing companies concerning sales of their products abroad point to a continued growth in exports. These expectations are based on developments in orders received from abroad and manufacturing companies’ opinions on their order books.
Manufacturing sales abroad and export value
Manufacturing industry important for exports
As the manufacturing industry accounted for 40 percent of Dutch exports in 2003, expected sales by manufacturing companies give an indication of how exports will develop. Both the development of manufacturing turnover abroad and that of exports reached a low point at the end of 2001 and the beginning of 2002, with decreases of around 9 percent. In the spring of 2003, the growth rates were positive, if only for a short period. From January 2004, however, there has been a clear improvement, both in the development of turnover, and in that of exports. By June 2004, growth rates were even the highest for three years.
Manufacturing orders received from abroad and export value, standardised values
More orders from abroad
From the beginning of 1998 to mid 2004 the development of orders received from abroad were on average around six months ahead of the year-on-year changes in goods exports. From October 2003 the net number of manufacturing companies with growing export orders increased. Because of the relation between orders received and exports, an increasing growth in export orders may be expected.
More orders in metal and petroleum industry in particular
Order books in the metal, petrochemical and synthetics sectors in particular increased. Together the companies in these sectors account for 70 percent of manufacturing exports. Slightly smaller increases were reported for paper and publishing, while in the remaining sectors, there were both increases and decreases.
Opinions on orders from abroad and export value
Order book opinions also point to increase in exports
Manufacturers’ opinions on their foreign orders also point to further growth in exports. Since August 2003 these opinions have improved continuously.
Ben van Cleef
Source: Economic monitor