In the fourth quarter of 2008, the value of exports was nearly 5 percent down on one year ago. This is in sharp contrast with the average growth by 11 percent over the first three quarters. Imports declined for the first time since early 2004. Exports of most products declined globally.
Changes in Dutch exports
Exports to UK decline more rapidly than to other EU countries
Three quarters of Dutch exports are destined for EU countries. The volume of exports to EU member states dropped by 5 percent relative to the fourth quarter of 2007. The difference between ‘old’ and ‘new’ EU counties was marginal.
With 8 percent, the level of exports to the United Kingdom declined above average. At the same time, the UK pound devaluated dramatically against the euro making Dutch products relatively expensive. Dutch exports to Germany grew marginally relative to one year previously.
Changes in the value of exports by region, fourth quarter 2008
Exports to Asia and Russia under heavy pressure
Exports to non-EU countries fell by approximately 5 percent. Exports to Asia and Russia were severely under pressure and decreased by an average of 14 and 21 percent respectively.
Exports to Russia dropped precipitously, partly as a result of plummeting crude petroleum prices. Crude petroleum is one of Russia’s major income sources. Exports to a number of former Soviet republics also declined noticeably.
Exports to the African continent grew on account of Nigeria and Algeria, but they make up only 3 percent of total Dutch exports.
Downturn exports for a variety of products
The downturn concerned a variety of products. Dutch exports of food products remained at the same level, but exports of transport equipment, notably lorries, dropped significantly.
A limited number of products, for example medicines, sold better than in the fourth quarter of 2007.
Change export value by category of products, fourth quarter 2008