Exports contracted by 9 percent in first half year

© Hollandse Hoogte / Bert Spiertz
In the first six months of 2020, Dutch goods exports were almost 23 billion euros lower compared to the same period in 2019. This represents a decline of 9 percent. Exports were still at almost the same level as one year previously in Q1 but fell by 17 percent in Q2. This is evident from the latest figures on Dutch goods trade and the new edition of Nederland Handelsland (Dutch Trade in Facts and Figures).

Dutch exports were affected by significantly lower trading prices, aside from the coronavirus crisis. Dutch export prices were approximately 2 percent in the first quarter before falling by around 6 percent year-on-year in Q2. Petroleum and natural gas prices were down in particular.

In the first six months of 2020, the total value of domestic exports declined by more than 16 billion euros (11 percent) to nearly 128 billion euros. At the same time, re-exports fell by nearly 6.5 billion euros. This means that 72 percent of the export contraction can be attributed to exports of Dutch-manufactured goods. The contribution of domestic exports to the economy is greater than that of re-exports. Out of every euro of export value, 51 eurocents were earned in domestic exports, while 14 eurocents were earned in re-exports.

Goods exports, first half year
JaarKwartaalDomestic exports (bn euros)Re-exports (bn euros)

Exports to the UK relatively hardest hit

Of the main domestic export destinations, the United Kingdom showed the largest contraction by far. In the first half of 2020, exports of Dutch-made goods to the UK decreased by nearly 2.5 billion euros or 23 percent. Around 30 percent of this decline is due to lower volumes of petroleum and natural gas exports. The UK is currently the fifth largest buyer of goods made in the Netherlands. At the end of 2019, the UK was still ranking third.

Germany continues to be the most important export destination. Exports to Germany fell by 12 percent in the first six months of this year. With 18 percent growth, China is a positive exception among the main export destinations.

Value of domestic exports by destination
LandJaarQ1 2020 (bn euros)Q2 2020 (bn euros)Q1 2019 (bn euros)Q2 2019 (bn euros)
United States20204.53.7
United States20194.34.7
United Kingdom20204.53.6
United Kingdom20195.84.7

Exports to European countries 13 percent lower

More than two-thirds of domestic exports are sold within Europe. Exports of Dutch-manufactured goods to European countries fell by over 13 billion in the first half of 2020. This is a year-on-year decline of 13 percent. The loss of exports to the Americas amounted to 16 percent. Exports to Asia increased by 2 percent. In addition to the growth in exports to China, there was also a substantial increase in exports to South Korea.

Domestic exports, first half year
Continent2019 (bn euros)2020 (bn euros)
Oceania and other4.53.8

One-fifth of exports are chemicals

With an export value exceeding 25 billion euros (20 percent), the Dutch chemical industry made the largest contribution to domestic exports. Exports of mineral fuels fell by 7.3 billion euros in the first half of 2020. As a result, their share in domestic exports decreased from 16 to 13 percent.

Domestic exports, first half year
Bedrijfstak2020 (bn euros)2019 (bn euros)
Chemical products25.126.6
Food and beverages24.524.7
Manufactured products22.124.3
Mineral fuels16.023.3
Raw materials and natural products10.511.5
Transport equipment7.210.9

Would you like to have more information, including on trade flow interlinkages between the Netherlands and the rest of the world (2019 and previous years)? Go to the publication Nederland Handelsland. A translated edition (Dutch Trade in Facts and Figures) is scheduled for release in early November 2020.