Also called Holland, Netherlands is strategically located on the European continent. The international trade powerhouse borders Germany to the east, Belgium to the south and is in close proximity to the United Kingdom via the North Sea and the English Channel.
Netherlands shipped US$723.3 billion worth of products around the globe in 2018. That figure represents roughly 4.1% of overall global exports estimated at $17.546 trillion one year earlier.
Applying a continental lens, roughly three-quarters of Dutch exports by value were delivered to other European countries while about 10% was sold to importers in Asia.
Netherlands shipped another 5.4% to North American customers, with 2.7% worth going to Africa. Even smaller percentages went to Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean, and also to Oceania led by Australia.
Netherlands Top Trading Partners
Below is a list showcasing 15 of Netherlands top trading partners, countries that imported the most Dutch shipments by dollar value during 2018. Also shown is each import country’s percentage of total Dutch exports.
- Germany: US$158.9 billion (22% of total Dutch exports)
- Belgium: $76.5 billion (10.6%)
- France: $58.8 billion (8.1%)
- United Kingdom: $56.7 billion (7.8%)
- United States: $31.2 billion (4.3%)
- Italy: $26.8 billion (3.7%)
- Spain: $21.5 billion (3%)
- Poland: $17.6 billion (2.4%)
- Sweden: $16.3 billion (2.3%)
- China: $12.6 billion (1.7%)
- Czech Republic: $12.3 billion (1.7%)
- Austria: $9.6 billion (1.3%)
- Denmark: $8.6 billion (1.2%)
- Switzerland: $8.5 billion (1.2%)
- Russia: $7 billion (1%)
Approaching three-quarters (72.4%) of Dutch exports in 2018 were delivered to the above 15 trade partners.
Among these top importers, the Czech Republic increased its import purchases from the Netherlands at the fastest rate from 2017 to 2018 thanks to a 57.3% increase.
In second place was Sweden via its 51.8% gain followed by Austria (up 50.4%), Belgium (up 47.4%), France (up 44.7%) then Germany (up 43.3%).
As defined by Investopedia, a country whose total value of all imported goods is higher than its value of all exports is said to have a negative trade balance or deficit.
It would be unrealistic for any exporting nation to expect across-the-board positive trade balances with all its importing partners. Similarly, that export country doesn’t necessarily post a negative trade balance with each individual partner with which it exchanges exports and imports.
Netherlands incurred the highest trade deficits with the following countries:
- China: -US$87.5 billion (country-specific trade deficit in 2018)
- Russia: -$18.4 billion
- United States: -$14.2 billion
- Norway: -$7.5 billion
- Japan: -$7.5 billion
- Malaysia: -$5.7 billion
- Vietnam: -$4.6 billion
- Thailand: -$4.5 billion
- Brazil: -$4 billion
- Indonesia: -$3.3 billion
Among Netherlands’ trading partners that cause the greatest negative trade balances, Dutch deficits with Norway (up 284.1%), China (up 212.4%) and Thailand (up 120.4%) grew at the fastest pace from 2017 to 2018.
These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate Netherlands’s competitive disadvantages with the above countries, but also represent key opportunities for Netherlands to develop country-specific strategies to strengthen its overall position in international trade.
The Netherlands generated an overall $76.6 billion trade surplus in 2018, a positive trade balance that expanded by 37.2% over the $55.9 billion surplus one year earlier.
Based on Investopedia’s definition of net importer, a country whose total value of all imported goods is lower than its value of all exports is said to have a positive trade balance or surplus.
Netherlands incurred the highest trade surpluses with the following countries:
- Germany: US$65.3 billion (country-specific trade surplus in 2018)
- France: $38.3 billion
- Belgium: $24.3 billion
- United Kingdom: $23.7 billion
- Italy: $14.3 billion
- Spain: $10.6 billion
- Sweden: $7.8 billion
- Poland: $6.3 billion
- Austria: $6 billion
- Czech Republic: $5.4 billion
Among Netherlands’ trading partners that generate the greatest positive trade balances, Dutch surpluses with Belgium (up 555.3%), Czech Republic (up 190.4%) and Sweden (up 139.8%) grew at the fastest pace from 2017 to 2018.
These positive cashflow streams clearly indicate Netherlands’ competitive advantages with the above countries, but also represent key opportunities for Netherlands to develop country-specific strategies to optimize its overall position in international trade.
Dutch Companies Servicing Trading Partners
Twenty-seven Dutch corporations rank among Forbes Global 2000. Below is a sample of the major Dutch export companies headquartered in the Netherlands that Forbes included:
- Ageas (diversified insurance)
- Akzo Nobel (diversified chemicals)
- ASM International N.V. (semiconductors)
- ASM International N.V. (semiconductors)
- ASML Holding (semiconductors)
- DSM (diversified chemicals)
- Gemalto (electronics)
- Gemalto (electronics)
- Heineken Holding (beverages)
- Lyondell Basell Industries (diversified chemicals)
- NXP Semiconductors (semiconductors)
- Philips (industrial conglomerate)
- Royal Dutch Shell (oil, gas)
- Unilever (food processing)
According to IMPORTERS.com listings for Dutch suppliers, the following are also examples of relatively smaller companies that ship products from the Netherlands. Shown within parenthesis are products that the Dutch business provides.
- Bless Ya, Inc (young girls apparel)
- Ciparo (paper, plastics)
- Daqso International (toiletries, cosmetics, perfumes)
- Floorkinderkleding (children clothing)
- Holland Metals & Raw Materials (non-ferrous metals, steel scrap)
- King-Boats (inflatable craft)
- Lagwo Trading Inc NV (crude oil, petroleum)
- Powerview Technology BV (surveillance products)
- Raisina Exports (dried fruits, nuts)
- Shipside Tax Free Cars BV (automobiles)
See also Netherlands Top 10 Imports, Netherlands Top 10 Major Export Companies and Netherlands Top 10 Exports
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on March 20, 2019
IMPORTERS.com The Online Market for G20 Importers, Netherlands Import Export Directory. Accessed on March 20, 2019
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on March 20, 2019
Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on June 28, 2019
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on March 20, 2019
Wikipedia, List of Companies of the Netherlands. Accessed on March 20, 2019
Wikipedia, Netherlands. Accessed on March 20, 2019