Dutch balance of trade has been favourable for nearly three decades

22/04/2010 15:00

Last year, the Netherlands exported more than 395 billion euro worth of goods and services. The value of imports amounted to 354 billion euro, resulting in a trade surplus of over 41 billion euro, i.e. more than 7 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP). The Netherlands has had a favourable balance of trade for the last 29 years.

Balance of trade

Balance of trade

Trade surplus gradually rising

In 1980, the Netherlands had a trade deficit of 0.1 percent of the GDP. One year later, the deficit had turned into a surplus. Since 1981, the balance of trade has risen continually, albeit in a rather unpredictable manner. In 2007, the trade surplus amounted to nearly 9 percent of the GDP. Subsequently, the trade surplus declined as global trade slowed down. Yet, with more than 7 percent of the GDP in 2009, the trade surplus still easily exceeded that of a decade ago.

Balance of trade by product, 2009

Balance of trade by product, 2009

The Netherlands net exporter of food, chemical products and petroleum derivatives

The Netherlands has been a major net exporter of food, drinks and tobacco products for a long time. In 2009, the difference between the value of exported and imported food, drinks and tobacco products was 18.5 billion euro or more than 3 percent of the GDP. The Netherlands also exported far more chemical products, petroleum derivatives, natural gas and agricultural and fish products than it imported. 

On the other hand, the Netherlands has also been a major net importer of minerals (excluding natural gas). Last year, net imports of minerals, notably petroleum, made up nearly 4 percent of the GDP. Imports of transport equipment have also exceeded exports for years. 

Wouter Jonkers