Inbound and outbound goods transport virtually stable in 2019

Container shipments
In 2019, altogether 629 billion kg of goods arrived in the Netherlands, i.e. 1 percent up on the previous year. The total weight of outbound shipments remained virtually stable at 558 billion kg. Roughly two-thirds of the inbound cargo arrived on sea-going vessels. Machinery and electronics represented over one-quarter of the total value of inbound cargo. Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reports this based on new analyses of goods flows entering and leaving the country.

Of all inbound cargo, 44 percent was destined for domestic consumption while 40 percent was in transit and 16 percent comprised goods for re-exports.

Most goods arriving and leaving by sea

Of all inbound cargo (629 billion kg), 65 percent reached the Netherlands through seaports; 15 percent arrived by lorry, 11 percent by inland vessel and 8 percent via pipeline transport. Carriage by sea was also the most common form of transport for outbound cargo. Over one-third of the outbound cargo left by sea-going vessel, 23 percent left the country on inland vessels, 19 percent was carried by road and 17 percent left via pipelines.

At approximately 0.15 percent, the share of aviation in the gross weight of inbound and outbound goods flows is small. Air transport is predominantly used to carry mixed cargo with a relatively high value. The share of aviation in the total value of the goods is therefore much larger, with 4 percent of inbound cargo and 8 percent of outbound cargo carried by air.

International trade flows to and from the Netherlands, gross weightInternational trade flows to and from the Netherlands, gross weight 2019 629 bn kg 249 205 104 103 560 bn kg 253 277 Inbound transit Imports for domestic use Domestic exports Imports for re-exports Re-exports Outbound transit Inbound transport Outbound transport 65% 15 11 8 1 <1 36% 23 19 17 4 1 83% 8 2 6 1 <1 35% 26 23 7 9 51% 21 15 13 1 55% 18 16 10 1 28% 26 25 19 42% 28 18 19 3 Rail Road Pipeline Air Inland vessel Sea-going vessel

A proportionately large share of all goods in transit arrives by sea (83 percent). After transhipment, the bulk is again forwarded by sea, although some of it leaves the country by inland vessel or through pipelines. More than half of the weight of both transit goods and goods for domestic use is brought into the country by sea-going vessels.

Machinery and electronics good for one-quarter of inbound cargo value

Of the total value in shipments entering and leaving the country in 2019, 26 percent concerned machinery and electronics while 12 percent was transport equipment. Food, beverages and tobacco contributed 10 percent to the value, while basic metals and metal products accounted for 7 percent.

The composition of inbound cargo, expressed in terms of weight, was 17 percent crude oil, 14 percent petroleum products, 9 percent food, beverages and tobacco, and 9 percent basic chemicals and fertilisers. As for outbound goods, the largest share consisted of petroleum products (21 percent), followed by basic chemicals and fertilisers (12 percent).

Share of commodity groups in inbound and outbound transport, 2019
GoederengroepInbound transport (value) (%)Outbound transport (value) (%)Inbound transport (weight) (%)Outbound transport (weight) (%)
Machinery and electronics25.4-2.1
Machinery and electronics26.4-2.1
Transport equipment12.6-1.3
Transport equipment10.6-1.1
Food, beverages and tobacco9.0-9.4
Food, beverages and tobacco11.4-10.2
Crude oil7.2-17.3
Crude oil3.2-9.9
Bacis metals and metal products7.1-4.3
Bacis metals and metal products6.3-4.9
Petroleum products5.4-13.9
Petroleum products7.5-20.7
Pharmaceuticals and chemical specialty products5.3-0.8
Pharmaceuticals and chemical specialty products7.0-1.0
Basic chemicals and
artificial fertilisers
Basic chemicals and
artificial fertilisers
Textiles, leather and related products4.7-0.4
Textiles, leather and related products3.9-0.5
Agricultural, forestry and fishery products4.3-7.3
Agricultural, forestry and fishery products4.5-5.1
Plastics, rubber3.1-1.1
Plastics, rubber3.7-1.8
Wood, pulp, paper, wood and paper products2.6-3.0
Wood, pulp, paper, wood and paper products2.3-4.0
Natural gas1.3-5.2
Natural gas1.0-4.8
Other mineral products0.9-2.7
Other mineral products0.7-1.8
Coal and ignite0.6-7.4
Coal and ignite0.4-6.3
Waste and secondary materials0.5-1.6
Waste and secondary materials0.7-2.3
Salt, sand, gravel, clay0.2-6.3
Salt, sand, gravel, clay0.2-4.4
Other goods3.9-0.8
Other goods3.8-0.7

Most goods come from Germany and Russia

Russia and Germany were the two largest suppliers of goods with respective shares of 14 and 12 percent of the gross weight. They were followed by Norway, Iceland and the Faroe Islands (7 percent), the United States (6 percent), and Belgium and Luxembourg (6 percent). The United Kingdom occupied 8th place in this ranking (4 percent).

Roughly 35 percent of the Russian cargo consisted of crude oil, 22 percent of petroleum products and 19 percent of coal. Goods from Germany included 21 percent food, beverages and tobacco; 18 percent salt, sand, gravel and clay and 13 percent basic chemicals and fertilisers.

Top 10 countries with the highest shares in inbound transport (weight), 2019
RegionTotal inbound transport (%)
Norway, Iceland and the Faroe Islands6.9
United States6.4
Belgium and Luxembourg5.7
Southwestern Asia4.2
United Kingdom4.1
China, Taiwan and Mongolia3.5
Southern Europe (EU)3.3
1)The region of Southwestern Asia comprises Bahrain, Iraq, Israel, Jemen, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Palestina, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria and the UAE. 2)The region of Southern Europe (EU) comprises Andorra, Ceuta, Chafarinas Islands, Melilla, Penon de Alhucemas, Penon de Vélez de la Gomera, Cyprus, Gibraltar, Greece, Italy, Malta, Portugal, San Marino, Spain and Vatican City.

China, Taiwan and Mongolia occupied the 9th spot with 3 percent of the weight of inbound cargo. This region accounted for a 16-percent share in the value of inbound goods, which is related to the high share of machinery and electronics (63 percent).

The second-highest value was represented by Germany with a share of 13 percent in inbound goods, followed by the United States, Belgium and the Eastern European region. The United Kingdom was in 9th place with a share of 4 percent in the value of cargo unloaded in the Netherlands.

Nearly half of outbound goods destined for neighbouring countries

By far the largest destination of outbound cargo was Germany at almost 170 billion kg or 30 percent of the total weight of outbound goods. The runner-up was Belgium (combined with Luxembourg) with a share of 15 percent. Almost half of the gross weight of outbound goods therefore went to one of the neighbouring countries. Two-thirds of the total weight remained within the European Union.

Top 10 countries with the highest shares in outbound transport, 2019
RegionTotal outbound transport (%)
Belgium and Luxembourg15.4
Southern Europe (EU)4.7
United Kingdom4.3
Eastern Europe (EU)4.2
Other or unknown4.2
United States3.5
Northern Europe (EU)3.2
Western Africa3.2
1)The region of Southern Europe (EU) comprises Andorra, Ceuta, Chafarinas Islands, Melilla, Penon de Alhucemas, Penon de Vélez de la Gomera, Cyprus, Gibraltar, Greece, Italy, Malta, Portugal, San Marino, Spain and Vatican City. 2)The region of Eastern Europe (EU) comprises Bulgaria, Hungary, Croatia, Austria, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia and Czech Republic. 3)The region of Northern Europe (EU) comprises Denmark, Finland and Sweden.

Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg combined occupied a share of more than 30 percent in the value of outbound cargo. One-fifth of this value was for Germany and 10 percent for Belgium and Luxembourg. Two-thirds of the value of outbound goods in 2019 went to countries within the EU.