Goods imports from China worth over 39 billion euros

© Hollandse Hoogte / Peter Hilz
In 2018, the Netherlands imported 39.2 billion euros worth of goods from China. Two-thirds of these imports were re-exported. Relatively many goods from China are high-tech products which are imported for further processing by Dutch manufacturers. Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reports this today in a publication on the Netherlands’ import dependency on China, Russia and the US.
Over the past 30 years, imports of goods from China have grown at a much faster pace than total imports of goods. China’s share in Dutch goods imports rose from 0.5 percent in 1988 to 8.9 percent in 2018. The share has ranged between 8 and 9 percent in recent years.

The Netherlands acting as gateway to European markets

In 2018, 26.3 billion of the 39.2 billion euros in imports from China was destined for re-exports, while nearly 12.9 billion euros was destined for the domestic market. Approximately two-thirds of the goods imported from China left the Netherlands in a virtually unprocessed condition.

Imported goods from China which were destined for the domestic market included 7.6 billion euros in direct imports as input for the production of goods and services by companies in the Netherlands (imports of intermediate goods). The other 5.2 billion euros concerned imports of finished goods for end-use customers. For example, consumer goods such as toys or capital goods such as machinery.

Goods imports from China, by destination, 2018
2018 (bn euros)Imports for re-exportation (bn euros)Intermediate imports (bn euros)End-use imports (bn euros)

Relatively large share of imports are high-tech goods

The 7.6 billion euros in imports from China for use in production processes in the Netherlands can be broken down further by technological intensity. High-tech goods such as laptops, tablet computers and telephones account for 28 percent. This is a high share, considering the share of such intermediate goods in total imports from all countries is only 9 percent.
At 34 percent, the highest share in intermediate imports from China was held by medium high-tech goods (worldwide share: 26 percent). The most commonly imported medium high-tech products from China are LED lamps, lithium-ion-batteries (used mainly in consumer electronics and electric cars) and phone chargers.

Intermediate imports from China, 2018
Imports from China, by technological intensity, 2018Low tech (%)Medium low tech (%)Medium high tech (%)High tech (%)Non-technological (%)

Most imports from China for further processing destined for manufacturing

The manufacturing sector accounts for the highest share of intermediate imports from China. In 2018, industrial companies imported 4.2 billion euros worth of intermediate goods from China, equivalent to 55 percent of the total intermediate imports from China.
In relative terms, IT and information services imported the highest share of goods from China at 36 percent of total imports in this sector. These primarily consisted of computers and computer components.
The telecommunications sector as well imported a relatively large volume of goods from China, namely 19 percent of its total imports. The main imports from China in this sector consisted of telephone devices.
The construction sector was the largest non-industrial user of Chinese goods. In 2018, construction companies imported over 1 billion euros in goods from China, equivalent to 14 percent of total intermediate imports from China. These mainly included lighting equipment, transformers, computers and LED lamps.

Intermediate imports from China, 2018
IndustryDirect imports from China in 2018 (bn euros) (million euros)
Electrotechnical industry749.7
Machinery industry605.1
Chemical industry532.8
Food, beverages and tobacco industry488.2
Government, education and health care487.9
Transport equipment industry485.7
Business services industry348.1
IT and information services261.7
Metal industry257

Bulk of intermediate imports processed into goods for exportation

45 percent of intermediate imports from China undergo processing into Dutch-manufactured products and services which are destined for domestic end-use. In other words, more than half of all intermediate imports from China are processed further into goods and services for exportation.
In 2018, the value of imports from China which were subsequently processed for exports amounted to 2.8 billion euros. The bulk of these imports consisted of machinery, appliances and components. In 2018, an amount of almost 2 billion euros in such imports was needed to service the foreign market. The second and third largest categories of imported products from China which are used in the manufacturing of export products were organic chemicals and plastics.