One-third of GDP is earned through exports

© CBS / Nikki van Toorn
Exports of goods and services generate one-third of gross domestic product (GDP) in the Netherlands. Earnings are highest from exports to Germany, the United Kingdom and Belgium. Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reports this based on the latest figures on export earnings over 2018.

The Netherlands exported 653 billion euros worth of goods and services in 2018. Over 262 billion euros of this amount are export earnings, i.e. value added created in the Netherlands. The remaining 390 billion euros goes to suppliers abroad, as payment for imported raw materials, semi-manufactured goods or services needed in domestic production for exports. This means that approximately one-third (33.9 percent) of Dutch GDP - the value added of all goods and services manufactured in the Netherlands - was generated through exports in 2018.

Of the gross export value of 653 billion euros, almost three-quarters (487 billion euros) concerned exports of goods, including re-exports, and one-quarter (166 billion euros) concerned exports of services. The Netherlands earns more from service exports than from goods exports, in relative terms. Out of every euro of export value, approximately 63 eurocents are earned in service exports, 51 eurocents in domestic goods exports (exports of Dutch manufactured goods) and 14 eurocents in re-exports. As a result, the value added of domestic goods exports (157 billion euros) and re-exports (34 billion euros) accounts for 60 percent of total export earnings (262 billion euros), while service exports hold a share of 40 percent. This means that service exports contribute 13.6 percent to Dutch GDP, domestic goods export 15.9 percent and re-exports 4.4 percent.

Compared to 2015, total Dutch export earnings grew by just over 10 percent, from 237 to 262 billion euros in 2018. Total earnings from re-exports saw the strongest relative growth: 21 percent, from 28 to 34 billion euros. Earnings from domestic goods exports and service exports grew less rapidly.

Export earnings by export category
JaarDomestic goods exports (bn euros)Re-exports (bn euros)Service exports (incl. travel) (bn euros)

Highest earnings from exports to Germany

In 2018, the Netherlands’ net earnings from the export of goods and services to Germany amounted to nearly 51 billion euros, approximately 6.5 percent of GDP. This makes Germany the main export partner, not only in terms of total export value but also in terms of export earnings. The top five further includes the United Kingdom (3.6 percent), Belgium (3.0 percent), France (2.3 percent) and the United States (2.2 percent). Re-exports play a relatively large role in earnings from exports to Germany. These concern, for example, smartphones, toys and clothes that go from China to Germany via the Netherlands. For more distant export destinations such as China and the United States, the contribution of re-exports to Dutch export earnings is small.

The top ten most lucrative export destinations in 2018 also includes Italy, Spain, Switzerland and Poland. Export earnings from these four countries combined were virtually the same as those from the number two, the United Kingdom. Spain saw the highest increase in Dutch export earnings: from 5.4 billion euros in 2015 to 6.9 billion euros in 2018. Exports to Switzerland yielded nearly one-quarter less in 2018 compared to 2015, due to a decline in service exports.

The Netherlands exports more goods than services to most countries. This is also reflected in export earnings, which for most countries are higher in goods exports than service exports. However, this does not apply to exports to the United Kingdom, the United States and Switzerland. In exports to these countries, service exports play a more significant role. Approximately 56 percent of earnings from exports to the United Kingdom (16 billion euros) were on account of the export of services, such as business services or transport services. This is twice as much as the amount of earnings from service exports to the number three, Belgium. Switzerland is the best performer in this respect, with around two-thirds of export earnings coming from service exports.

Re-exports play an important role in earnings from exports to Italy and Spain, with almost one-fifth coming from re-exports to these countries. When looking at Switzerland, the export of services is most important. Noteworthy is China's high ranking; exports to this country are now more lucrative than exports to more nearby countries such as Poland, but also Sweden, Ireland or Denmark.

Top 10 export destinations based on export earnings, 2018
 Domestic goods exports (bn euros)Re-exports (bn euros)Service exports (bn euros)
United Kingdom8.73.315.8
United States6.80.98.9