Export earnings in 2021 exceeding pre-pandemic level

High-tech industry
© Hollandse Hoogte / Flip Franssen
In 2021, the Netherlands exported 798 billion euros in goods and services. After deduction of purchasing costs, the Netherlands earned approximately 279 billion euros from these exports. This is nearly 11 percent more than in 2020 and over 3 percent up on 2019. Export earnings were highest in manufacturing. This is evident from new figures released by Statistics Netherlands (CBS).

At nearly 105 billion euros, the highest export earnings were (again) generated by manufacturing in 2021. Trade comes in second place with a value of nearly 57 billion euros. The third largest sector in terms of export earnings is transportation and storage, generating almost 30 billion euros. These sectors have been the top three in this order for years.

In 2020, various sectors earned less from exports than in 2019 due to disruptions caused by the coronavirus crisis. In most cases, last year’s earnings returned to or exceeded the pre-pandemic level last year. In 2021, export earnings in manufacturing stood at nearly 105 billion euros, i.e. 11 percent more than in 2020 and 8 percent more than in 2019. Other sectors such as accommodation and food services and culture, sports and recreation still earned significantly less from exports in 2021 compared to 2019. Not all sectors were equally impacted by disruptions in 2020. Earnings from exports by the sectors information and communication and financial services did not decline in 2020.

Export earnings in largest exporting sectors
Exporterende Sector2021 (bn euros)2020 (bn euros)2019 (bn euros)
Transportation and storage29.97225.27127.809
business services
Information and
Agriculture, forestry
and fisheries

Machinery industry suffered little from coronavirus crisis

Within manufacturing, the machinery industry was impacted relatively little by disruptions caused by the coronavirus crisis. This was mainly on account of exports of machinery for the semiconductor industry. Export earnings in the chemical industry were down year on year in 2019 as well as in 2020. These earnings were at a record high of 18.5 billion euros in 2021. The chemical industry also manufactures products such as hand disinfectants; exports of such products were up in 2020. Not all manufacturing industries were already back at pre-pandemic level in 2021. The motor vehicle and trailer industry, for example, still generated lower export earnings that year.

Export earnings
jaarChemical industry (bn euros)Machinery industry (bn euros)Motor vehicle and trailer industry (bn euros)

Which sectors earn from exports by the machinery industry?

The bulk of the 18.2 billion euros in export earnings generated by the machinery industry stays in this sector: 12.4 billion euros, slightly more than 68 percent. The other (supplying) manufacturing industries account for another 6 percent of these earnings. This is slightly less than the trade sector (7 percent), with wholesale trade in particular benefiting from exports by the machinery industry. Other sectors that earn from these exports are predominantly those providing services.

Supplying sectors with export earnings due to the machinery industry, 2021
Aanleverende.sector2021 (million euros)
Renting/leasing and other business services954.6
Specialised business services926.6
Transportation and storage295.5
Real estate activities244.9
Information and communication243.3
Financial services224.5