Service trade was hit hardest in Q4, with a 14-percent drop in exports and a 17-percent drop in imports. Whereas goods exports and imports saw a partial recovery in Q3 and Q4 following the largest year-on-year decline in Q2, service trade slumped further in the second half of the year. From Q3 onwards, the contraction in service trade was more substantial than in goods trade.
|Stroom||Type||Services (year-on-year % change)||Goods (year-on-year % change)|
Export contraction mainly in tourism
In 2020, Dutch service exports shrank by 24 billion euros. This can be explained by the coronavirus pandemic on the one hand while on the other hand several companies shifted their flows of services across the border.
Last year’s decline in service exports is largely related to the travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 measures; travel showed the largest contraction. Foreign holidaymakers, day trippers and business travellers came to the Netherlands in smaller numbers; total visitor expenditure was approximately 51 percent lower year-on-year. Various platforms and intermediaries earn from travel as well. Other services are therefore also affected by the decline in travel, e.g. business services and transport services. Exports of business services declined by nearly 14 percent; this includes travel mediation services and R&D. The decline in transport services amounted to 11 percent, largely due to the contraction in air passenger transport.
Exports of intellectual property rights use grew from 62 to 65 billion euros in 2020, making it the only type of service export in the top five that recorded growth. The increase is mainly attributable to companies engaged in the distribution of audiovisual products such as streaming services of music, films and series.
|Dienstensoort||2020 (bn euros)||2019 (bn euros)|
|Intellectual property rights||65||62|
|Telecommunications, computer services||24||26|
Largest decline in travel
Within international service trade, travel is one of the main five contributors to exports. Last year, visitor spending decreased for the first time since 2014. Foreign tourists spent altogether almost 9 billion euros less in the Netherlands than in 2019. The bulk of this expenditure was by tourists from neighbouring countries. Spending by travellers from Germany, Belgium and the United Kingdom declined by more than 5.4 billion euros in 2020. German travellers spent 44 percent less in the Netherlands compared to 2019. Travellers from Belgium and the UK spent 51 and 71 percent less respectively.
|Landen||2019 (bn euros)||2020 (bn euros)|