Traditionally, Germany, Belgium, the United Kingdom, France and Italy are the main export partners of the Netherlands. Back in 1996, the share of these five EU countries in total Dutch exports of goods amounted to 68 percent, versus 55 percent in 2015. Italy’s position as the fifth biggest export destination has now been taken over by the United States: in 2011 non-EU country US ousted Italy from fifth position for the first time. Italy currently occupies sixth place.
Altogether, the Netherlands exported 425.6 billion euros worth of goods to foreign countries in 2015. The bulk went to adjacent countries: 23 percent to Germany, 10 percent to Belgium and 9 percent to the United Kingdom. France and the United States followed with 8 and 4 percent respectively; Italy also accounted for about 4 percent.
EU and non-EU
The share of total exports of goods of all 28 EU countries together declined from 81 percent in 1996 to 72 percent in 2015, so non-EU countries are becoming increasingly important for Dutch exports. In addition to the United States, Switzerland and Turkey are also important trading partners. BRICS countries China and Russia are also important non-EU export destinations. CBS already reported that China is buying up large quantities of Dutch baby milk powder.
Growing exports to non-EU countries
Nearly 69 thousand Dutch companies exported goods to countries across the globe in 2015. Approximately 45 thousand only to EU countries, more than 4 thousand only to non-EU countries and 19 thousand to EU and non-EU countries.
The number of Dutch businesses exporting goods to non-EU countries is increasing. In all, more than 23 thousand companies supplied goods to countries outside the EU in 2015, i.e. a 20 percent increase relative to 2010. In the period 2010-2015, the number of companies exclusively engaged in exports to EU countries fell by 14 percent. The number of companies only exporting to non-EU countries more than doubled over the same period.
Switzerland is the most popular non-EU destination for Dutch exporters. Last year more than 9 thousand firms exported goods to Switzerland. Many Dutch companies are engaged in goods exports to the non-EU countries United States (7,300), Norway (5,700) and Turkey (4,200). Some 13 thousand businesses exported goods to one or more of the BRICS countries, with China accounting for 31 percent. Compared to 2010, the number of companies exporting goods to Switzerland and the United States has grown substantially by 23 and 38 percent respectively.
Some 60 percent of businesses engaged in trade with countries outside the EU export goods to more than one non-EU country; 30 businesses export goods to more than one hundred different non-EU countries.