More trade with neighbouring countries in 2021

Border crossing to Germany
© Hollandse Hoogte / Peter Hilz
In 2021, the value of Dutch trade in goods was approximately 15 percent above its pre-pandemic level. The higher import and export value was related to increased energy and raw material prices, but also to greater demand following COVID year 2020. Trade with Germany, China and Belgium - the largest trading partners - grew in particular. Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reports this in connection with the publication Dutch Trade in Facts and Figures 2022.

The value of goods imports stood at 527 billion euros in 2021. This is 24 percent more than in the previous year and 15 percent more than in 2019. A significant part of the import growth can be explained by increased import prices; they were up by 12 percent on 2020 and by 6.6 percent on 2019. For each of the ten largest origin countries, the import value in 2021 exceeded pre-pandemic levels.

Value of imports from top 10 largest import partners
Partner2021* (bn euros)2020 (bn euros)2019 (bn euros)
United States40.134.337.3
United Kingdom26.420.024.7
* Provisional figures

Imports from Germany exceeding 91 billion euros

Especially imports from Germany, China and Belgium grew substantially in 2021: by 13, 11 and 7 percent respectively, relative to 2019. Germany mainly sold higher amounts worth of refined petroleum products, passenger cars and lorries and parts, electrical appliances, specialised machinery and medicines. In 2021, the Netherlands obtained almost a quarter of its refined petroleum products from Belgium - the largest import from that country. China is the main supplier to the Netherlands of machinery and equipment such as mobile telephones, computers and semiconductors/chips. Last year, the import value of chips and semiconductors from China grew by more than 2.1 billion euros. This means it was 2.5 times as high as in 2019. China is the largest supplier of chips and semiconductors, followed by Malaysia, Germany and Costa Rica. However, almost two thirds of the goods imported by the Netherlands from China are re-exported without significant processing.

Exports to Germany increased most in value

In 2021, the value of Dutch goods exports stood at approximately 587 billion euros. This is nearly 22 percent higher than in the previous year and almost 14 percent more than in 2019. The strongest growth was recorded in exports to the neighbouring countries, Germany and Belgium: relative to 2019, this was by 19 billion and 11 billion euros, respectively. A third of all Dutch goods exports goes to these countries as they are important customers for mineral fuels from the Netherlands in particular. Exports to China grew mainly in 2020 before declining slightly in 2021. Nevertheless, exports in 2021 still exceeded the pre-pandemic level.

Value of exports to top 10 largest export partners
Partner2021* (bn euros)2020 (bn euros)2019 (bn euros)
United Kingdom38.034.939.8
United States28.124.226.6
* Provisional figures

In 2021, the value of exports to the top ten partner countries was higher than in 2019, with the exception of the United Kingdom. The total value of exports to the UK fell by 1.9 billion euros between 2019 and 2021 due to a decline in re-exports to the UK, by 6 billion euros. The Netherlands is no longer a logical stopover for non-EU goods (e.g. Asian goods) since the UK left the EU.

Belgium obtains almost 1 in 5 goods from the Netherlands

Belgium has been in the Dutch top three of main goods suppliers and customers for many years. Conversely, the Netherlands is also important for Belgian international goods trade. In 2020, around 13 percent of Belgium’s goods exports were destined for the Netherlands and 19 percent of Belgium’s imports originated from the Netherlands. As a result, the Netherlands was Belgium’s largest trading partner in 2020. More than 9 percent of German imports originated from the Netherlands, making the Netherlands Germany’s second largest import partner; likewise, it is France’s second largest import partner.

The Netherlands' share in goods trade of other countries, 2020
PartnerDutch share (%)
Netherlands as a supplier
Netherlands as a customer
Ivory Coast9.1
Source: CBS, CEPII

The Netherlands is a key customer of goods from Iceland (almost one fifth of exports), Cameroon (13 percent of exports) and Ivory Coast (9 percent of exports). The bulk of Iceland’s exports concerns aluminium. Ivory Coast mainly supplies cacao and Cameroon cacao and crude oil. Norway is an important supplier of crude oil.