Small group of firms dominate services trade

Dutch international trade in services is dominated by a small group of trading companies which are often foreign-controlled. One-third of the total commercial value of Dutch services is generated in and around Amsterdam. The south of the Netherlands has the highest relative proportion of service traders, according to a new edition of the Internationalisation Monitor, published by Statistics Netherlands (CBS).

Only 5.6 thousand of the 222 thousand enterprises trading in services have a turnover exceeding 1 million euros. In 2014, these companies accounted for 97 percent of the total import value (74 billion euros) and export value (99 billion euros) of services.

The majority of service traders are engaged in both imports and exports. These account for 86 percent of the import value and 89 percent of the export value of traded services.

Over 70 percent of service traders provide or purchase services for which relatively small amounts are charged, i.e. up to 5 thousand euros in commercial value. Most of these small traders are importers, while nearly 1 in 10 only export services and a minor share are active in both imports and exports.

Most service traders under foreign control

Although independent small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) form the great majority of enterprises engaged in both importers and exporters of services, this group owns a modest share in the total commercial value of services: 12 percent of the import value and 19 percent of the export value. Foreign-controlled enterprises dominate services trade in particular, with over 50 percent of the export value and over 60 percent of the import value of services generated by this group.

The Dutch trade surplus in services involves enterprises of which more than 38 percent are independent SMEs. Dutch-owned enterprises account for 39 percent of the trade surplus; the remainder is on account of foreign-controlled enterprises.

Relatively many service traders located in the south

Enterprises can have several business establishments at multiple locations. In 2014, one in twelve business establishments were either buyers or sellers of services in the international market. These establishments belong to enterprises with an annual services trade turnover of at least 5 thousand euros. Especially in the south of the country, relatively many business establishments trade in international services.

In Zeeuws-Vlaanderen, one in seven business establishments are involved in international services trade. No other region in the Netherlands has the same comparatively large share of service traders. The second and third highest shares are found in central and northern Limburg. With the exception of Delfzijl and surrounding area, the northern regions hold relatively small shares of international service traders.

Greater Amsterdam the largest in absolute terms

Most traders in services are located in the area around Amsterdam called Greater Amsterdam. In terms of services trade value, too, the capital of the Netherlands tops the list. Almost one-third of the total commercial value of Dutch international services trade is generated in Greater Amsterdam, namely around 38 percent of the import value and around 28 percent of the export value of services.

Amsterdam’s top ranking is partly due to the presence of a major airport with many transportation services as well as many head offices in the region. The Rotterdam-Rijnmond region comes in second with a 16-percent share; in third place is the urban agglomeration of The Hague with a share of 9 percent in the total commercial value of services trade.

COROP regions and trade in services, 2014*
 Share in total services importsShare in total services exports
Greater Amsterdam38.427.7
Rotterdam Rijnmond15.116.5
The Hague agglomeration6.810.6
southeastern Noord-Brabant5.35.2
western Noord-Brabant3.15.5
South Limburg22.8
southeastern Zuid-Holland1.62.9
Leiden and flowerbulb region agglomeration1.52.5
northeastern Noord-Brabant2.41.8