In 2017, the value of exports to non-EU countries rose by 16 percent year-on-year versus 8 percent growth in exports to EU countries. In absolute terms, however, exports within the EU (+25 billion euros) rose more sharply than exports outside the EU (+18.5 billion euros).
Developments in percentage terms over the past decade were more favourable in exports to non-EU countries in almost every consecutive year compared with exports to other EU countries. The share held by EU countries in Dutch export destinations has been declining for several years. Currently, 29 percent of Dutch exports are destined for a country outside the EU, as against 23.5 percent in 2008.
In 2017, the export value in trade with non-EU countries was 56 percent up from 2008 levels; exports to EU countries increased by 17 percent and total exports by 26 percent.
Only one fast-growing major destination in the EU
Out of the 45 export destinations with goods worth at least 1 billion euros in 2016, 41 countries were responsible for rising exports in 2017. Exports to the 4 remaining destinations declined last year. The ten fastest growing destinations comprise one EU country (Portugal) and nine non-EU countries.
At 53 percent, the highest growth was seen in exports to South Korea (from 3.6 to 5.5 billion euros), mainly including specialised machinery such as chip-manufacturing equipment. Russia follows at a great distance with 29 percent growth (from 4.3 to 5.6 billion euros) including both exports of Dutch-manufactured goods (e.g. agricultural machinery and vehicles) and re-exports (e.g. computers). Exports to Saudi Arabia, Israel, Mexico, Malaysia, China, Portugal, India and Turkey increased by around 20 percent.
A decline was seen in Dutch exports to four medium-sized to large destinations (Cayman Islands, Brazil, Egypt and Morocco). Exports to Brazil dropped by one-quarter (vessels, petroleum products). Exports to the UK rose by 0.1 percent, despite a sharp contraction in exports of vehicles and vessels).
Exports to neighbouring countries growing the fastest in absolute terms
Despite the EU’s declining share in Dutch exports, the value of exports to EU countries - measured in euros - still rose more sharply than to non-EU countries between 2016 and 2017. The top ten in terms of absolute growth comprises six EU countries (Germany, Belgium, France, Poland, Italy and Spain) and four non-EU countries (the United States, South Korea, China and Russia). The fastest-growing destination by far was Germany (+9.0 billion euros), followed by Belgium (+4.3 billion euros) and France (+3.2 billion euros). In percentage terms, exports to Germany and France (both +9 percent) and to Belgium (+10 percent) grew at approximately the same rate as the total export value. Exports to Brazil declined by 800 million euros over the same period.
Growing exports of petroleum products and cars within and outside EU
Petroleum product and car exports have contributed significantly to export volumes both within and outside the EU. Within the EU, re-exports of telephones manufactured abroad grew rapidly; outside the EU (including Russia) this was the case for re-exports of computers. The highest growth in exports outside the EU was in specialised machinery, with a substantial rise in exports to South Korea.