Earnings from machinery and equipment exports doubled since 2015

© Hollandse Hoogte / Flip Franssen
In 2022, the export category from which the Netherlands earned the most was machinery and equipment, with earnings amounting to 25.5 billion euros. Earnings from exports in this category have more than doubled since 2015. Exports of machines used in semiconductor manufacturing to China, Taiwan and South Korea, for instance, grew sharply during this period. The contribution of machinery exports to the Netherlands’ GDP increased from 1.7 percent in 2015 to 2.7 percent in 2022. Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reports this today.

After machinery, natural gas was the second most important export product in 2022, with export earnings of 12.0 billion euros. Due to very high gas prices in 2022, earnings from natural gas produced in the Netherlands were higher than they were in 2021 and in 2015, even though the actual volume of gas exported in 2022 was lower. Metal and metal products (8.1 billion euros in 2022) were the next largest export category, followed by petroleum products at 8.0 billion euros (and just as in the case of natural gas, earnings from petroleum products were much higher than in 2021 due to elevated energy prices). Earnings from the export of organic chemicals, dairy and eggs, high-performance plastics, horticultural products, meat and pharmaceuticals each amounted to between 5 and 6 billion euros.

These figures only include earnings from goods produced in the Netherlands. Earnings from re-exports are not included. The Netherlands earns relatively little per euro on re-exported goods. The Netherlands’ total earnings from the export of goods produced in the Netherlands were 165.3 billion euros in 2022, representing 17.2 percent of GDP.

Top 10 export categories by earnings (goods produced in the Netherlands)
 2022 (bn euro)2021 (bn euro)2015 (bn euro)
Machinery and equipment25.521.812.0
Natural gas12.04.47.0
Metal and metal products8.16.85.2
Petroleum products8.03.63.4
Dairy and eggs6.04.43.7
Organic chemicals6.05.44.0
High-performance plastics5.95.83.6

Earnings from agricultural exports stand at over 44 billion euros

Exports can be divided into six main commodity groups: agriculture, machinery and equipment, manufactured goods, chemicals, energy and transportation. When this categorisation is applied, agricultural goods (which include all food and beverage products made from agricultural products) are the export category from which the Dutch economy earns the most, at 44.4 billion euros in 2022. After that come the categories machinery and equipment, manufactured goods, chemical products, energy and transportation equipment. Earnings from energy-related products (particularly natural gas and petroleum products) have increased the most, with an increase of 90 percent between 2015 and 2022. This category is followed by machinery and equipment (up by 67 percent), manufactured goods (up by 50 percent) and chemicals (up by 49 percent). Earnings from agricultural products (up by 28 percent) and transportation equipment (up by 25 percent) also grew, but significantly less than earnings from other commodity groups.

Export earnings from goods produced in the Netherlands
 2022 (bn euro)2021 (bn euro)2015 (bn euro)
Machinery and equipment34.429.520.6
Manufactured goods27.125.218.1
Chemical products25.523.917.2
Transportation equipment10.811.48.7

Export margins have only increased for machinery and equipment since 2015

The profitability of each export commodity group can be found by dividing export earnings by the gross export value for that group. This is known as the export margin. For machinery and equipment the average export margin was 62 cents, and for manufactured goods, such as metal products and plastic products, an average of 59 cents was earned for every euro of exports in 2022. Energy-related products have the lowest export margin at 40 cents per euro. This is due to the very limited value added in the production of petroleum products, which involves the minor processing of imported crude petroleum. By contrast, natural gas is very lucrative when it is extracted within the Netherlands, whether onshore or offshore, because virtually no imports are required in order to export it.

The export margins for most commodity groups have been declining since 2015. However, due to a sharp increase in exports of profitable types of machinery and equipment, export margins in that category have risen somewhat.

Export margins, earnings per euro on goods produced in the Netherlands
 2022 (euro)2021 (euro)2015 (euro)
Machinery and equipment0.620.620.58
Manufactured goods0.590.630.65
Transportation equipment0.540.570.59
Chemical products0.460.510.55