Exports to the UK account for 3.5 percent of GDP

© Hollandse Hoogte / Peter Hilz
In 2019, the Netherlands earned 28.3 billion euros in exports of goods and services destined for the United Kingdom. This is 3.5 percent of Dutch GDP. Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reports this on the basis of additional statistical research, commissioned by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy.

Relative to 2015, the share of UK-related export earnings in the Dutch economy has declined slightly: from 3.7 percent in 2015 to 3.6 percent in 2018 and 3.5 percent in 2019. Earnings from exports to the UK have increased less rapidly since 2015 (by 11 percent) compared to overall export earnings (by 14 percent).

For years, the United Kingdom has been the leading export destination for the Netherlands after Germany in terms of the trade in goods and services combined. Last year, the Netherlands earned 52 billion euros in exports to Germany. After the UK (28.3 billion), the top five was completed by Belgium (24.6 billion), France (18.6 billion) and the United States (17.3 billion).

In 2019, the top ten export destinations in terms of net earnings were the same as in 2018, although China gained in importance and moved up one spot (from 9th to 8th place) at the expense of Switzerland.

Dutch export earnings
Land2019* (bn euros)2018* (bn euros)
United Kingdom28.327.7
United States17.316.5
* estimate, provisional figures

Wholesale and commission trade biggest export earner

Dutch business sectors are involved in exporting to the United Kingdom and profit either directly (as exporters) or indirectly (as suppliers for exports by other sectors). Of all business sectors in the Netherlands, wholesale and commission trade has the highest earnings in exports to the UK: 3.7 billion euros in 2019. Nearly half of these earnings come from re-exports of goods to the UK. Almost one-third are generated from domestic goods exports and 22 percent concern service exports.

Services are the main type of export for five out of the ten sectors with the highest earnings in trade with the UK. These are holdings and management consultancies, IT services, storage and transport services, overland transport and banks. The high share of service exports is also seen at the macro level. Service exports account for 57 percent of all exports to the UK. The share in overall Dutch exports is 40 percent.

Agriculture, the chemical industry and the food industry are largely dependent on domestic goods exports to the UK. Export earnings from re-exports of goods are only substantial in wholesale and commission trade.

Earnings in exports to the UK, 2019*
BedrijfstakDomestic goods exports (bn euros)Re-exports of goods (bn euros)Service exports (bn euros)
Wholesale and commission trade1.1881.7160.808
Holdings and management consultancies0.3080.1781.912
IT services0.1160.0791.636
Temp agencies and employment services0.4230.1150.651
Storage and transport services0.1450.0940.789
Overland transport0.1470.1010.683
Banking services0.1560.0490.665
Chemical industry0.6660.0110.121
Food industry0.7300.0120.052
* estimate, provisional figures

Exports of IT services strongly focused on the UK

Of the ten sectors mentioned, the IT sector is most dependent on exports to the UK. In 2019, 15.8 percent of total export earnings was related to the UK. Holdings and management consultancies as well are strongly focused on the UK (14.0 percent), as is the Dutch banking sector (12.6 percent).

These sectors also generate value added from the domestic UK market. If this is incorporated into the comparison, the four sectors most dependent on exports to the UK are: holdings and management consultancies (8.8 percent), IT services (8.6 percent), storage and transport services (8.5 percent) and agriculture (7.6 percent).

Banks and temporary employment agencies have a large domestic market and depend less on exports to the UK for their total earnings: 2.7 and 4.7 percent export dependency respectively.

Export dependency in trade with the UK, 2019*
BedrijfstakShare of exports to the UK in total exports (%)Share of exports to the UK in total value added (%)
IT services15.88.6
Holdings and
management consultancies
Banking services12.62.7
Storage and
transport services
Overland transport11.07.0
Temp agencies and
employment services
Food industry9.26.5
Wholesale and
commission trade
Chemical industry7.16.8
* provisional figures

265 thousand full-time jobs connected with exports to the UK

Data on employment connected with exports to the UK are available up to and including the year 2018. It concerned 265 thousand full-time jobs (FTEs) in 2018, with 186 thousand FTEs for men and 79 thousand FTEs for women. This level is comparable to the previous year and 10 percent higher than in 2015 (240 thousand FTEs).

The ratio between men and women is stable over time in terms of employment in exports to the UK. The percentage share of women grew marginally from 29 percent in 2015 to 30 percent in 2018.

Employment connected with Dutch exports to the UK
JaarMen ( x 1,000)Women ( x 1,000)