China's share in goods imports grew further in 2021

© Hollandse Hoogte / Flip Franssen
In 2021, the Netherlands imported 48 billion euros in goods from China. Two thirds of the goods left the Netherlands again in a virtually unprocessed state as re-exports. The total import value stood at 39.6 billion euros in 2020. Nearly 10 percent of all imported goods comes from China. Dutch companies also imported more Chinese raw materials and semi-finished products for the production of goods and services. Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reports this after the publication of a study by CBS and CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis on the economic interwovenness with China through trade.
Goods imports from China rose by 8.3 billion euros (21 percent) year on year in 2021. Imports from China grew by 8.7 percent per year on average as of 2015. At the same time, total goods imports grew by 5.5 percent per year on average. This shows that China has become more important for Dutch goods imports. Whereas in 2015 China’s share still stood at 8.2 percent, in 2021 this had increased to 9.9 percent. Only Germany’s share in the value of imported goods was higher than China's in 2021.

Imports for re-export: dominated by high-tech products

Almost two thirds of the goods imported from China last year left the Netherlands again in a virtually unprocessed state as re-exports (31.8 billion euros). These re-exports include raw materials and semi-manufactured goods, but mostly they are high-tech end products such as computers (3.5 billion euros), mobile telephones (3.4 billion), monitors (1.9 billion) and microchips and semiconductors (1.9 billion). Last year, imports of Chinese goods for re-export increased by 6.7 billion euros on the previous year. This sharp rise was partly associated with imported mobile telephones (+902 million euros), semiconductors and microchips (+614 million), and computers (+312 million).

Dutch goods imports from China
JaarDirect imports for domestic expenditure (bn euros)Intermediate imports processed for domestic expenditure (bn euros)Intermediate imports processed for export (bn euros)Imports for re-export (bn euros)

Goods imports from China for the domestic market amounted to 16.2 billion euros last year. A proportion of the goods is processed by Dutch companies. The remainder becomes directly available for consumption by households, used by the government or for corporate investments. In 2021, this concerned an amount of 7.6 billion euros. The total value still stood at 6.9 billion euros in 2020. The imported goods mainly included consumer goods and capital goods, predominantly computers (1.5 billion), mobile telephones (881 million) and furniture (718 million).

Imports for further processing rising most sharply

In 2021, goods imports from China for further processing by Dutch companies amounted to 8.5 billion euros. The total value still stood at 7.6 billion euros in 2020. Such imports saw an increase of no less than 934 million euros (12.4 percent) in 2021. As a result, this part of goods imports accounted for 4.9 percent of total goods imports for further processing. This was still 3.8 percent in 2015.
Of the 8.5 billion euros in imports from China intended for further processing, 4.5 billion euros were products and services for the domestic market. The remaining 4 billion euros were processed into goods and services for export. The largest product categories of such imports, which consisted of raw materials and semi-manufactured goods, were: computers and computer components (589 million euros), lamps and lighting fittings (217 million euros), and electrical transformers and converters (299 million euros).

Telecom sector most dependent on imports from China

The sector with the highest import dependence of China is the telecommunications sector, where nearly 26 percent of all imported goods originated from China in 2021. This was over 20 percent in the IT and information services sector, and nearly 15 percent in financial services. In absolute terms, the construction sector imported the most from China, followed by the machinery industry with 613 million euros and business services with 531 million euros.

Dependence on imports from China by industry
Bedrijfstak2021 (%)2015 (%)
IT and information services20.119.2
Financial services14.816.9
Business services12.511.7
Wholesale and commission trade12.411.5
Retail trade (excl. cars)12.311.4
Other manufacturing, repair and installation11.98.3
Electrical appliances11.611.9