Flowers and plants are not the most important export products, but the level of specialisation with respect to these products is high in the Netherlands. Flowers and plants account for 2.1 percent of total Dutch exports versus only 0.1 percent in other European countries. The other four export products distinguishing the Netherlands from other countries in the EU 15 are also produced in the agricultural sector.
Agricultural products important for Dutch exports
Apart from flowers and plants, the Netherlands – more than other European countries – has specialised in exports of vegetables, oil-bearing seeds, waste products of the food manufacturing industry and plaiting materials. The share of these agricultural products in total Dutch exports is three to four times as high as their share in total exports of the EU 15 countries minus the Netherlands. The Netherlands is also the largest exporter of vegetables in the world.
Share relatively strong products in total exports, 2010
Exports flowers and plants worth 8 billion euro
Among the five products with a high level of specialisation compared to the other countries of the EU 15, flowers and plants had the highest export value, i.e. 8 billion euro. More than other European countries, the Netherlands focuses on exports of plaiting materials, like bamboo and reed. Yet, the export value of these products was only 21 million euro, because Asia is the main global supplier for these products.
Export value of relatively strong products, 2010
Not everything is ’made in Holland’
Most flowers and plants, but not all agricultural products exported by the Netherlands are grown here. Half of oil-bearing seeds exported to other countries are grown in the Netherlands, but the other half, e.g. soya beans, were first imported and subsequently resold to other countries. Traders take advantage of the favourable geographical location of the Netherlands. The port of Rotterdam and the Betuwe freight railway contribute to the function of the Netherlands as a hub for the distribution of goods to countries elsewhere in Europe.
Share made-in-Holland products in relatively strong export products, 2010
Oscar Lemmers and Pascal Ramaekers