Dutch export of business services at €42 billion

© Hollandse Hoogte
The value of business services exported by the Netherlands in 2016 amounted to 42.4 billion euros. These included consulting, market research, accounting, R&D, engineering and legal services. Business services are therefore the largest category in Dutch export of services, according to the latest edition of the Internationalisation Monitor released by Statistics Netherlands (CBS).

In addition to business services, exports include a large number of telecommunication and computer services, transport services and royalties. These four categories combined account for as much as 81 percent of the total volume of exported services. The majority of Dutch services imports also concern these types of services, representing a collective share of 79 percent.

The total value of Dutch services exports amounted to 160 billion euros in 2016, versus 150 billion euros in service imports. In 2015, services exports contributed 76 billion euros in gross value added to the Dutch economy, equivalent to 11 percent of national GDP.

Share of service types in total import and export of services, 2016
Business services27.826.5
Telecommunication and
computer services
Transportation services12.719.2
Use of intellectual property
Leisure and business travel10.36.9
Industrial services2.33.5
Financial services3.93.4
Construction services1.51.6
Maintenance and repair1.11.2
Public sector services0.21.2
Personal, cultural and recreational services1.60.9
Insurance services0.20.8

Netherlands highly specialised in export of inland navigation services

The Netherlands is most specialised in exportation of inland navigation services, i.e. Dutch freight transport services over international inland waterways, for example contracted by a German company. This can be seen in the so-called Balassa index, which measures the degree of specialisation of Dutch export services by comparing the shares of services in total exports with the share of the same services in the other EU countries.

Following inland navigation services at a great distance are agricultural, environmental and mining services as other Dutch specialty services. Furthermore, the Netherlands exports a large number of royalties compared to other EU countries. Royalties are payments for the right to use intellectual property owned by enterprises or individuals and are much higher in value than the services mentioned earlier. In 2016, the volume of royalties exported by the Netherlands amounted to 23 billion euros, accounting for 15 percent of total services exports.

Dutch export of services, specialisation compared to EU countries, 2015
 Balassa index
Inland navigation services
Inland navigation services
Agricultural, environmental
and energy services
Use of intellectual property
Information services
(except news)
Maritime transport services
Postal and courier services2
Aviation services (cargo)2
Road transport services
Accounting services1.9

Trade in services slightly less focused on Europe than trade in goods

The European continent is the main market for most Dutch trade in services. Nearly two-thirds of Dutch services exports have a destination within Europe and 56 percent of foreign services are imported from within Europe.

Europe’s share is even larger in goods trade, mainly due to substantial flows of re-exports as part of the goods trade within Europe. In addition, international services trade is generally less affected by distance than international goods trade.

After Europe, the Netherlands trades most services with the Americas, importing services from the United States in particular. The trade with Asia and particularly with Africa and Oceania represents relatively small volumes.

Dutch trade in services and goods, share per continent, 2016
Trade in services
Trade in goods