In September 2009, the Benelux celebrates its 65th anniversary. Goods trade between the Netherlands and the other Benelux countries has grown substantially over the period 1946-2008. Belgium is the Netherlands’ second largest trading partner.
Sharp increase in trade with Belgium and Luxembourg
In 1946, Dutch exports to the other Benelux countries amounted to 77 million euro, the value of imports was approximately 137 million euro. In 2008, the total value of imports and exports was respectively about 250 and 600 times as high as in 1946.
Dutch trade with Belgium and Luxembourg
Market share Dutch trade with the other Benelux countries shrinking
Since 1950, the market share of Dutch trade with the other Benelux countries in the total export value of the Netherlands has varied between 12 tot 15 percent. In the period 1950-1965, 18 to 20 percent of total Dutch goods imports came from Belgium and Luxembourg and subsequently declined to 11 percent over the past four years.
Share Dutch goods trade with Belgium and Luxembourg
Trade surplus with Belgium and Luxembourg worth over 9 billion euro
Last year, the value of Dutch exports of goods to Belgium amounted to 43 billion euro. The value of exports to Luxembourg was nearly 1.2 billion euro. The value of Dutch imports from Belgium and Luxembourg was 33.9 and 1.2 billion euro respectively. With a share of 11.6 percent in total export value and 10.1 percent in total import value of the Netherlands, Belgium is the second largest trading partner of the Netherlands.
Negative trade balance in the early years of the Benelux
Between 1946 and 1973, the Netherlands imported more goods from Belgium and Luxembourg than it exported. This was mainly caused by the trade in iron, steel and cars. Since 1974, the trade surplus with Belgium and Luxembourg has been positive. This is partly due to exports of mineral fuels and chemical products. Exports of flowers and plants also contribute to a positive trade balance.
Trade balance with Belgium and Luxembourg
Trade with Belgium: machinery and mineral fuels
Machinery is the most important product imported from Belgium. Last year machinery (mainly cars) constituted nearly one fifth of total imports from Belgium. Mineral fuels, in particular crude oil and natural gas, constitute the biggest part of exports to Belgium.