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Trade Profile

In this page: Foreign Trade in Figures | Trade Compliance | Standards

 

Foreign Trade in Figures

Dutch prosperity has always been based on its international trade. With high-tech industries and services, foreign trade is one of the main pillars of the Dutch economy, representing 151% of GDP (2016). The level of the country's trade openness (the share of imports plus exports of goods and services in GDP) is usually over 100%, making it one of the most open and outward-oriented economies in the world. Thanks to its geographic location, Rotterdam is the largest European port, which makes the Netherlands a European trade hub. The share of exports in the country's GDP increased significantly in recent years, reaching 82.5% of GDP.

The Dutch balance of trade is structurally in surplus, a trend that should continue in 2017. The trade surplus reached EUR 52.7 billion in 2016, a significant increase compared to its 2015 level (around EUR 44 billion). Exports increased by 1.2% whilst imports fell by 0.6%. 

The economic surplus in the Netherlands is almost entirely due to its trade with the countries of the European Union. The country's main trade partners are Germany, Belgium, the United Kingdom, France and Italy. In 2016, the Netherlands were the world’s 8th greatest exporter. The country mainly exports processed foodstuff (plants, flowers, dairy products, meat, fruit and vegetables), chemical products, medicine, medical equipment, refined oil, IT and telephone equipment, natural gas, agricultural and construction machinery, electrical and electronic components, printing equipment and semi-conductor manufacturing. Half of the sales are re-exportations as the country plays the role of a European trade hub.

 
Foreign Trade Indicators 20122013201420152016
Imports of Goods (million USD) 586,927589,697589,440505,806503,414
Exports of Goods (million USD) 655,374671,556672,671567,217569,705
Imports of Services (million USD) 142,570151,233172,714157,116169,458
Exports of Services (million USD) 166,448177,060194,824178,068179,776
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 2.71.04.25.83.9
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 3.82.14.55.03.7
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 72.371.371.771.769.9
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 81.982.082.682.580.8
Trade Balance (million USD) 91,470100,091100,80984,53186,861
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 154.3153.3154.3154.1150.7

Source: World Trade Organisation (WTO) - 2017; World Bank - 2017

 

Main Partner Countries

Main Customers
(% of Exports)
2015
Germany 23.2%
Belgium 10.4%
United Kingdom 8.9%
France 8.1%
United States 4.2%
Italy 4.1%
Spain 2.9%
Poland 2.4%
China 2.0%
Sweden 1.8%
Main Suppliers
(% of Imports)
2015
Germany 17.2%
Belgium 9.9%
China 9.0%
United States 8.5%
United Kingdom 5.5%
France 4.3%
Russia 3.6%
Norway 3.1%
Italy 2.3%
Japan 2.2%

Source: Comtrade, 2017

 

Main Products

473.8 bn USD of products exported in 2015
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals (excl. crude); preparations containing >= 70% by weight of petroleum oils or of oils obtained from bituminous minerals, these oils being the basic constituents of the preparations, n.e.s.; waste oils containing mainly petroleum or bituminous minerals 8.9%
Medicaments consisting of mixed or unmixed products for therapeutic or prophylactic uses, put up in measured doses incl. those in the form of transdermal administration or in forms or packings for retail sale (excl. goods of heading 3002, 3005 or 3006) 3.5%
Automatic data processing machines and units thereof; magnetic or optical readers, machines for transcribing data onto data media in coded form and machines for processing such data, n.e.s. 3.2%
Electrical apparatus for line telephony or line telegraphy, incl. line telephone sets with cordless handsets and telecommunication apparatus for carrier-current line systems or for digital line systems; videophones; parts thereof 3.0%
Petroleum gas and other gaseous hydrocarbons 2.6%
Instruments and appliances used in medical, surgical, dental or veterinary sciences, incl. scintigraphic apparatus, other electro-medical apparatus and sight-testing instruments, n.e.s. 1.7%
Parts and accessories (other than covers, carrying cases and the like) suitable for use solely or principally with machines of heading 8469 to 8472, n.e.s. 1.6%
Human blood; animal blood prepared for therapeutic, prophylactic or diagnostic uses; antisera and other blood fractions and modified immunological products, whether or not obtained by means of biotechnological processes; vaccines, toxins, cultures of micro-organisms (excl. yeasts) and similar products 1.5%
Orthopaedic appliances, incl. crutches, surgical belts and trusses; splints and other fracture appliances; artificial parts of the body; hearing aids and other appliances which are worn or carried, or implanted in the body, to compensate for a defect or disability 1.2%
Machine-tools for working any material by removal of material, by laser or other light or photon beam, ultrasonic, electro-discharge, electro-chemical, electron beam, ionic-beam or plasma arc processes (excl. cleaning apparatus operated by ultrasonic processes, soldering and welding machines, incl. those which can be used for cutting, and material testing machines) 1.1%
424.9 bn USD of products imported in 2015
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals (excl. crude); preparations containing >= 70% by weight of petroleum oils or of oils obtained from bituminous minerals, these oils being the basic constituents of the preparations, n.e.s.; waste oils containing mainly petroleum or bituminous minerals 6.3%
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals, crude 5.9%
Automatic data processing machines and units thereof; magnetic or optical readers, machines for transcribing data onto data media in coded form and machines for processing such data, n.e.s. 4.0%
Electrical apparatus for line telephony or line telegraphy, incl. line telephone sets with cordless handsets and telecommunication apparatus for carrier-current line systems or for digital line systems; videophones; parts thereof 3.7%
Medicaments consisting of mixed or unmixed products for therapeutic or prophylactic uses, put up in measured doses incl. those in the form of transdermal administration or in forms or packings for retail sale (excl. goods of heading 3002, 3005 or 3006) 2.7%
Petroleum gas and other gaseous hydrocarbons 2.3%
Motor cars and other motor vehicles principally designed for the transport of persons, incl. station wagons and racing cars (excl. motor vehicles of heading 8702) 2.2%
Parts and accessories (other than covers, carrying cases and the like) suitable for use solely or principally with machines of heading 8469 to 8472, n.e.s. 1.8%
Instruments and appliances used in medical, surgical, dental or veterinary sciences, incl. scintigraphic apparatus, other electro-medical apparatus and sight-testing instruments, n.e.s. 1.5%
Transmission apparatus for radio-telephony, radio-telegraphy, radio-broadcasting or television, whether or not incorporating reception apparatus or sound recording or reproducing apparatus; television cameras; still image video cameras and other video camera recorders; digital cameras 1.5%

Source: Comtrade, 2017

 
 
 

Main Services

376.5 bn USD of services exported in 2014
Other business services
26.21%
Transportation
21.95%
Computer and information services
20.65%
Royalties and license fees
10.47%
Travel
6.88%
Communications services
4.81%
Financial services
3.45%
Construction services
2.12%
Cultural and recreational services
1.46%
Government services
1.13%
Insurance services
0.86%
332.3 bn USD of services imported in 2014
Other business services
25.84%
Computer and information services
20.28%
Royalties and license fees
18.03%
Transportation
14.45%
Travel
12.30%
Communications services
2.60%
Financial services
2.58%
Construction services
1.81%
Cultural and recreational services
1.59%
Insurance services
0.33%
Government services
0.19%

Source: United Nations Statistics Division, Latest Available Data

 

Exchange Rate System

Local Currency
Euro (EUR)
Exchange Rate Regime
Floating exchange regime.
Level of Currency Instability
Very limited exchange risk since the euro is a major currency.
 
 
Monetary Indicators 20112012201320142015
Euro (EUR) - Average Annual Exchange Rate For 1 USD 0.720.780.750.750.90

Source: The European Central Bank - Latest available data.

 
 

Trade Compliance

International Conventions
Member of World Trade Organisation
Member of OECD
Party to the Kyoto Protocol
Party to the Washington Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora
Party to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal
Party to the Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer
Party to the Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls For Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies
Party of the International Coffee Agreement 2007
Main International Economic Cooperation
Member of the European Union Custom Union and numbers of multilateral and bilateral agreements.
Party of the ATA Convention on Temporary Admissions and Use of the Carnets
Yes

As a Reminder, the ATA is a System Allowing the Free Movement of Goods Across Frontiers and Their Temporary Admission Into a Customs Territory With Relief From Duties and Taxes. The Goods Are Covered By a Single Document Known as the ATA Carnet That is Secured By an International Guarantee System.
Look Up the Other Member Countries And Read the Web Pages of the World Customs Organization Devoted to the ATA Carnet.
Party of the TIR Convention
Yes

As a Reminder, the TIR Convention and its Transit Regime Contribute to the Facilitation of International Transport, Especially International Road Transport, Not Only in Europe and the Middle East, But Also in Other Parts of the World, Such as Africa and Latin America.
The UNCTAD Website Allows You to Read the TIR Convention, See the List of Member Countries And to Find Further Information.
Accompanying Documents For Imports
Airway bill or Bill of Lading; Commercial Invoice; Certificate of Origin- Import Approval; Dangerous Goods Certification; VI1; Phytosanitry; Preferential Agreement Documentation; Licenses; Printed Matter; Goods Consigned for Exhibition/Tradeshow/Congress; Country of Origin Marking; Marking of Goods;
Free Zones
There are a number of customs warehouses (category A through E, but no category A or F or "free zones") and free warehouses at designated places and international airports where goods in transit may be temporarily stored under customs supervision: Douanekantoor Schiphol Cargo Centre, Amsterdam.

All the free zones in the European Union can be found here.

For Further Information
European Taxation and Customs
Dutch Custom Procedure
Dutch Customs
The Netherlands Foreign Trade Agency
Non Tariff Barriers
As a member of the European Union, the Netherlands complies with all EU regulations. While the EU has a rather liberal foreign trade policy, there is a certain number of restrictions, especially on farm products, following the creation of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).  The CAP compensates the import and export costs of farm products in order to favour the development of agriculture within the EU. The EU also controls a certain level of trade within its borders. For example, the presence of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in products must be specified on all packaging for safety purposes and the import of beef injected with articifical hormones is prohibited. Moreover, the "mad cow crisis" in the 1990s prompted the European Authorities to strengthen the sanitation requirements of all meat products entering and circulating in the EU territory. These precautionary measures also require evidence of compliance. If there is any uncertainty about an important, it is denied entry into the EU until proof of compliance is produced.
Sectors or Products For Which Commercial Disagreements Have Been Registered With the WTO
The Netherlands has only been a part of one dispute involving the United States. The US claimed that the Netherlands was giving illegal support to domestic exporting companies in the form of tax deduction in case DS128. The complaint is still in the phase of consultation.

As a member of the European Union it has had a lot of disputes, more about these disputes can be found here.

Assessment of Commercial Policy
The Netherland's commercial policy, as seen by the WTO
Barriers to exchanges, inventoried by the United States

Learn more about How to Export to the Netherlands on Globaltrade.net, the Directory for International Trade Service Providers.

 

Standards

National Standards Organisations
Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment
European Certification Bureau
Keurmerk Instituut
Integration in the International Standards Network
The Dutch Ministry of Living, Space and the environment participates in the International Standard organisation (ISO) the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), the International Telecommunication Union, the European Telecommunication Standard Institute (ETSI),the European Committee for Standardisation and the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardisation.
Obligation to Use Standards
Standards and certifications processes are as developed by the European Telecommunication Standard Institute (ETSI), European Committee for Standardization and the European Committee for Electrotecnical Standardization.
Classification of Standards
A CE mark is obligatory.
Assessment of the System of Standardization
Dutch consumers are not well-informed when it comes down to the standards and the regulations. They do not pay a lot of attention to them especially if the product in question is not very expensive. Recently consumers have been paying more attention to the energy label on products.
Online Consultation of Standards
Available on the European Telecommunication Standard Institute (ETSI), the European Committee for Standardisation and the European Committee for Electrotecnical Standardisation's websites.
Certification Organisations
Consultants Europe B.V.
KEMA Quality B.V.
European Certification Bureau Nederland.V.
Telefication B.V.
Associations of Standards Users
Normalisatie Kringen Nederland

 

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Last Updates: July 2017