Machinery exports account for highest earnings

© Hollandse Hoogte / Flip Franssen
In terms of domestic value added due to exports, the Netherlands earns the most from the export of machinery and machine parts. In 2018, the value added generated due to exports of machinery such as chip manufacturing equipment and machinery for the food processing industry amounted to almost 16 billion euros. This is nearly 4 billion euros more than in 2015. Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reports this on the basis of new figures.


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After machinery, the second most profitable export products are metal and metal products with nearly 6 billion euros. Horticultural products (including flowers, plants, flower bulbs and tree nursery products) are in third place, with export earnings amounting to nearly 5.5 billion euros. Natural gas, high-quality plastics, meat and organic chemistry (e.g. hydrocarbons) each generated between 4.5 billion and 5 billion euros in export earnings last year. Other export products in the top ten include dairy, pharmaceutical products (e.g. medicines) and processed food (e.g. baby milk powder).
Among the ten most profitable domestically manufactured export products, only natural gas generated less value added in 2018 than in 2015. Natural gas was still the second largest export product four years ago. Natural gas generated over 2 billion euros less in 2018 and is now the fourth highest-earning export product. Relative to 2015, domestic value added in exports has increased most rapidly (by nearly 4 billion euros) in the export of machinery and machine parts. Metal and metal products, high-quality plastics, dairy and processed food now rank higher than in 2015.

Top 10 highest-earning domestic exports
Export product2018 (bn euros)2015 (bn euros)
Machinery and machine parts15.812
Metal and metal products5.75.2
Horticultural products (e.g. flowers, plants)5.45.4
Natural gas4.97
High-quality plastics4.93.6
Organic chemistry4.64
Processed food (e.g. baby milk powder)3.22.9

Export earnings from food and beverages 25 billion euros

Export products are put into different groups of goods. These are classified under seven main categories. According to this classification, the Netherlands receives the highest earnings from the export of food products and beverages, which is slightly more than from exports of machinery and equipment. The main category of food and beverages includes meat, dairy and food preparations, all three of them listed separately in the ranking of highest earning export products. This category further includes vegetables, cocoa products, beverages (such as beer) and preparations of fruits and vegetables.
At the level of goods categories as well, the Netherlands earned more from exports of all the various groups in 2018 relative to 2015, except in the case of mineral fuels. The latter exception is mainly due to a lower value added in exports of natural gas.

Overall picture of domestic export earnings
Goods group2018 (bn euros)2015 (bn euros)
Food and beverages25.122.8
Machinery and equipment24.521.1
Chemical products20.717.6
Manufactured products17.815.4
Natural products and raw materials15.815.4
Transport equipment10.88.7
Mineral fuels8.110.4

Lower export earnings per euro in domestic goods exports

On average, the Netherlands generates a net revenue of 51 eurocents per euro from its domestic exports, which is less than in 2015 (53 eurocents). This means that in each euro worth of exports, 2 more eurocents worth of imported of goods or services were necessary than in 2015.
The highest earnings per euro come from exports of natural products or raw materials (such as flowers and plants), namely 64 eurocents on average. Manufactured products (industrial products such as metal products and textile goods) generate 63 eurocents out of every euro of exports. The Dutch economy also profits above average from exports of food and beverages (59 eurocents) and transport equipment (53 eurocents). Chemical products (50 eurocents), machinery and equipment (43 eurocents) and mineral fuels (30 eurocents) all fall below this average.

Domestic export earnings per euro of export value
Goods group2018 (euro)2015 (euro)
Natural products and raw materials0.640.65
Manufactured products0.630.66
Food and beverages0.590.6
Transport equipment0.530.59
Chemical products0.50.55
Machinery and equipment0.430.38
Mineral fuels0.30.41

Dutch Trade in Facts and Figures

Dutch Trade in Facts and Figures 2019 - Export, Investment and Employment contains topical and relevant information on the state of internationalisation in the Netherlands. Exports, investments, multinationals, starting exporters and born globals are covered extensively. This publication is available in both languages, Dutch and English.