Imports from Ukraine exceeded €2 bn for the first time in 2021

Rape seed field in spring in the central part of Ukraine
© Getty Images/iStockphoto
Last year, the Netherlands imported more than 2 billion euros worth of goods from Ukraine. In 2002, goods imports still amounted to 177 million euros, i.e. around one twelfth of last year’s amount. Dutch enterprises mainly imported refined vegetable oils and fats such as sunflower oil as well as maize from Ukraine last year. The value of goods exports to Ukraine has tripled over the span of two decades. Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reports this on the basis of new figures relating to the period before the Russian invasion.

This shows that the development of imports from Ukraine was one of the strongest within Europe, with a growing volume of imports and rising prices. Of all countries supplying goods to the Netherlands in 2021, Ukraine ranked 38th. Conversely, the Netherlands was the 8th most important sales market for Ukraine’s exports in 2020 (source: UN Comtrade). Last year, Dutch goods exports to Ukraine stood at approximately 1.2 billion euros but were still below the peak in 2007. The Netherlands has been running a trade deficit with Ukraine since 2015.

Bilateral goods trade with Ukraine
 Imports (million euros)Exports (million euros)
* Provisional figures

Half of imports concerned raw materials and natural products

In 2021, the main product categories from Ukraine were raw materials and natural products (53-percent share) and food and beverages (35-percent share), in terms of value . Six years previously, half of the value of Dutch imports from Ukraine comprised food and beverages and almost a quarter consisted of raw materials and natural products. In 2021, the two product categories combined accounted for 88 percent of total imports from Ukraine. These are mainly refined vegetable oils and fats (sunflower oil), maize, oilseeds for refined oils (rape and colza seeds) and meat and edible offal (poultry). Maize imports saw an increase of 65 percent in the period 2015-2021. The increase in value was even higher for imports of refined vegetable oils and fats (376 percent) and oilseeds for refined oils (886 percent).

Top 5 imports from Ukraine in value
Producten2021* (million euros)2015 (million euros)
Vegetable oils and fats,
e.g. sunflower oil
e.g. rape and colza seeds
Meat and edible offal102.328.2
Fodder and forage40.929.5
* Provisional figures

Ukraine top supplier of maize to the Netherlands

Goods from Ukraine accounted for slightly less than 0.4 percent of total Dutch imports. However, in 2021 Ukraine was the largest supplier of maize, followed at a great distance by France, Germany and Romania. Maize is one of the few commodities that are imported from a small number of countries and that have a relatively high export concentration in world trade at the same time. In 2021, the Netherlands imported 536 million euros worth of maize from Ukraine. This is equivalent to over one quarter of total imports from that country. For vegetable refined oils and oilseeds for refined oils as well, Ukraine is in the top three of suppliers.

Exports to Ukraine highly varied

In 2021, the Netherlands exported 1.2 billion euros in goods to Ukraine. This is 851 million euros more than two decades ago. Of total Dutch exports, 0.2 percent were destined for Ukraine. This concerns a wide variety of products that goes from the Netherlands to Ukraine, of which medicines, flowers and plants, cacao, computers and mobile phones are the most important. These five commodities accounted for 29 percent of exports to Ukraine last year. Of all export partners, Ukraine ranked 46th in 2021. One year earlier, the Netherlands was the 17th largest country of origin for Ukraine’s imports (source: UN Comtrade).

Top 5 exports to Ukraine in value
Product2021* (million euros)2015 (million euros)
Flowers and plants87.550.1
Computers, laptops, tablets36.817.5
(Mobile) phones,
modems, routers
* Provisional figures