Imports from China down by 9 percent in March 2020

© Hollandse Hoogte / Imagine China
In March 2020, goods imports from China and Hong Kong showed a year-on-year decline of 9 percent. The imports already fell by 10 percent over the previous month. Over the months of February and March this year, imports from China and Hong Kong dropped by altogether 700 million euros relative to February-March 2019. This is evident from provisional figures on Dutch goods trade released by Statistics Netherlands (CBS).
Goods imports from China (incl. Hong Kong)
JaarMaandGoods imports (y-o-y % change)
2018Jan11.7
2018Feb10.7
2018Mar-0.1
2018Apr3.2
2018May1.4
2018June4.7
2018July14.7
2018Aug14.5
2018Sep0.0
2018Oct22.5
2018Nov12.6
2018Dec6.3
2019Jan12.5
2019Feb12.0
2019Mar5.1
2019Apr22.5
2019May16.1
2019June0.9
2019July13.7
2019Aug0.6
2019Sep15.1
2019Oct6.4
2019Nov-0.8
2019Dec8.4
2020Jan5.1
2020Feb-10.2
2020Mar-9.1

China the largest goods supplier after Germany

After Germany, China is the Netherlands’ leading supplier of goods. In 2019, Dutch importers bought 49 billion euros worth of goods from China. Approximately two-thirds of these imports left the Netherlands again in the form of re-exports. The remainder were destined for the manufacturing industry as raw materials or semi-finished products as well as for domestic consumption. China’s industry was brought to a virtual standstill for several weeks as of end of January 2020, due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 crisis.

Fewer computers, more solar panels

Imports of a wide array of products from China slowed considerably over February and March. As for technological products, imports of computers, modems and routers declined in particular. Conversely, imports of solar panels and semiconductor components increased. Solar panel imports into the Netherlands even rose by nearly three-quarters over February and March. Among non-technological products, the main product category is clothing. Clothing imports from China fell by 37 percent in March. China is the main country of origin in Dutch imports of clothing.

Top imports from China (incl. Hong Kong)
ProductFeb-Mar 2020 (million euros)Feb-Mar 2019 (million euros)
High tech/low tech
Computers, laptops, tablets858932
Modems, routers769943
Monitors, projectors214234
Office machines176229
Electrical machines165219
Semiconductor components14887
Solar panels14282
Mobile phones140154
Household appliances123162
Machine parts116148
Other products
Garments325403
Furniture170180
Organic chemicals140147
Works of iron, steel, aluminium137158
Musical instruments111112
Footwear110138
Household articles, metal kitchen utensils7580
Toys (excl. gaming consoles)69106
Travel goods, handbags etc.6272
(Motor) vehicles, mobility cars5558

Total import value also dropped sharply in March

Imports from China and Hong Kong were not the only imports that declined in March 2020. Total goods imports amounted to 36.5 billion euros, representing a year-on-year decline by over 8 percent. This was mainly caused by the sharply lower price of crude oil, with mineral fuel importers paying considerably less than one year previously. In addition, the declining imports correlated with rising economic uncertainty over the coronavirus outbreak’s global impact. For example, both consumer and producer confidence fell in March.

Value of goods imports
YearMonthOther goods (bn euros)Mineral fuels (bn euros)
2018Jan306.8
2018Feb286.4
2018Mar 316.3
2018Apr29.15.9
2018May30.36.4
2018June30.46.4
2018July29.76.5
2018Aug29.37.5
2018Sep29.27
2018Oct33.27.3
2018Nov32.36.3
2018Dec 29.16.6
2019Jan31.96.8
2019Feb29.96.2
2019Mar 32.77.1
2019Apr32.56.6
2019May32.76.9
2019June30.76.1
2019July32.65.7
2019Aug305.7
2019Sep32.35.7
2019Oct35.15.5
2019Nov33.35.8
2019Dec 31.36.5
2020Jan32.76.3
2020Feb30.85.1
2020Mar 32.34.2

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