Imports from China: from T-shirts to tablet PCs

06/12/2012 15:00

China is the largest supplier of high-tech products for the Netherlands. The range of products currently imported from China is very different from the past, when low-tech products like clothing and footwear were important. Nowadays, computers and mobile phones are important.

China main supplier of high-tech products

Last year, Dutch companies bought 96 billion euro worth of high-tech products, i.e. 26 percent of total imports. With 17 billion euro, China is the main supplier of high-tech products followed by Germany and the United States with 14 and 12 billion euro respectively. These figures are published in the Internationalisation Monitor 2012.

Imports from China: more than half are high-tech products

Just over half of Dutch imports from China consisted of high-tech products. With 65 percent, the share of high-tech products in imports from Japan was even higher. Not all products are destined for the Dutch market. Many products are re-exported to other European countries.

Percentage of high-tech products in Dutch imports, by country, 2011

Percentage of high-tech products in Dutch imports, by country, 2011

Doubled since 1996

The share of high-tech goods in total Dutch imports remained fairly stable over the period 1996-2011, but the share of high-tech goods imported from China doubled. In 1996, the largest part of imports from China were low-tech goods. The share of low-tech goods diminished, but the value of imports of low-tech products grew, because the value of total imports from China soared from 2 billion euro to 31 billion euro. The increase in the value of imports from China reflects the huge technological and economic progress China is making.

Imports from China by technology, 1996 - first half of 2012

Imports from China by technology, 1996 - first half of 2012

From T-shirts to tablet PCs

The shift from low-tech to high-tech products is also reflected in China’s most important products. In 1996, the Netherlands mainly imported clothes, computer components, toys, computers and footwear. Last year, imports from China had shifted from low-tech products to laptop and tablet PCs with a total import value of 5 billion euro, i.e. no less than one sixth of total Dutch imports from China. Other important products are mobile phones, clothes and office equipment like printers, photocopiers and computer monitors.

Most important products from China, 1996 and 2011

Most important products from China, 1996 and 2011

Oscar Lemmers and Tessa de Wit