That dollar amount reflects a 31.1% increase since 2017 and a 25.5% acceleration from 2020 to 2021 for the powerhouse European Union member.
The biggest 5 exports from the Netherlands by dollar value are refined petroleum oils, machinery for making semi-conductors, phone devices including smartphones, medication mixes in dosage, and eletro-medical equipment such as xrays machinery. Combined, that quintet of major exports represents 18.2% of money collected by the Netherlands for shipments during 2021.
Based on the average exchange rate for 2021, the Netherlands uses the euro which appreciated by 5% against the US dollar since 2017 and strengthened by 3.9% from 2020 to 2021. The stronger European Union currency in 2021 made exports from the Netherlands paid for in weaker US dollars relatively more expensive for international buyers.
Major Customers for Exports from the Netherlands
The latest available country-specific data shows that almost two-thirds (66.1%) of products exported from the Netherlands were bought by importers in: Germany (22.8% of the Netherlands’ global total), Belgium (10.8%), France (8.1%), United States of America (4.8%), Italy (4.3%), Spain (3.14%), Poland (3.12%), mainland China (2.4%), Sweden (2%), Taiwan (1.7%), Czech Republic (1.53%) and Switzerland (1.47%).
From a continental perspective, 74.8% of the Netherlands’ exports by value were delivered to fellow European countries while 12.6% were sold to importers in Asia. The Netherlands shipped another 6.3% worth of goods to North America.
Smaller percentages went to Africa (3.1%), Latin America (2.5%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean, then Oceania led by Australia and New Zealand (0.8%).
Given the Dutch population of 17.5 million people, Netherlands’ total $691.8 billion in 2021 exports translates to roughly $39,600 for every resident in the northwest European country with a northern coastline along the North Sea. That average dollar amount eclipses the $38,600 per capita one year earlier in 2020.
Netherlands Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Dutch global shipments during 2021. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from the Netherlands.
- Machinery including computers: US$89.9 billion (13% of total exports)
- Mineral fuels including oil: $84.3 billion (12.2%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $69.6 billion (10.1%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $41.6 billion (6%)
- Pharmaceuticals: $37 billion (5.4%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $32.3 billion (4.7%)
- Vehicles: $26.1 billion (3.8%)
- Organic chemicals: $22.4 billion (3.2%)
- Other chemical goods: $19.6 billion (2.8%)
- Iron, steel: $16.3 billion (2.4%)
The Netherlands’ top 10 exports approached two-thirds (63.5%) of the overall value of its global shipments.
Mineral fuels including oil represents the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 66.1% from 2020 to 2021. That percentage increase was propelled by higher international sales of refined petroleum oils, petroleum gas and coal shipped from the Netherlands.
In second place for improving export sales was iron and steel as materials via a 55.9% gain.
Netherlands’ shipments of organic chemicals posted the third-fastest gain in value, up by 50.8%.
The most modest increase among the Netherlands’ top 10 export categories was pharmaceuticals thanks to its single-digit 8.8% improvement year over year.
Note that the results listed above are at the categorized two-digit Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) code level. For a more granular view of exported goods at the four-digit HTS code level, see the section Searchable List of Most Valuable Dutch Export Products further down near the bottom of this article.
Products Generating Greatest Trade Surpluses for the Netherlands
The Netherlands earned a $71 billion trade surplus in 2021, a positive trade balance that expanded by 5.6% over the $67.3 billion surplus one year earlier in 2020.
The following types of Dutch product shipments represent positive net exports or a trade balance surplus.
Investopedia defines net exports as the value of a country’s total exports minus the value of its total imports. In a nutshell, net exports represent the amount by which foreign spending on a home country’s goods or services exceeds or lags the home country’s spending on foreign goods or services.
- Machinery including computers: US$18.2 billion (Up by 34.8% since 2020)
- Pharmaceuticals: $11.58 billion (Down by -9%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $11.55 billion (Up by 44.2%)
- Live trees, plants, cut flowers: $11 billion (Up by 31.3%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $10.2 billion (Up by 31.8%)
- Meat: $6.3 billion (Up by 13.6%)
- Organic chemicals: $5.5 billion (Up by 73.7%)
- Dairy, eggs, honey: $5.3 billion (Up by 6.9%)
- Vegetables: $5.2 billion (Up by 1%)
- Other chemical goods: $3.7 billion (Up by 22%)
Netherlands has highly positive net exports in the international trade of machines including computers. In turn, these cashflows indicate strong competitive advantages for the Netherlands under the machinery product category.
Products Causing Worst Trade Deficits for the Netherlands
Below are exports from the Netherlands that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country goods trail Dutch importer spending on foreign products.
- Mineral fuels including oil: -US$13.1 billion (Up by 212.6% since 2020)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$10.4 billion (Up by 33.3%)
- Vehicles: -$4.9 billion (Up by 12.3%)
- Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefabricated buildings: -$3.6 billion (Up by 26.6%)
- Cereals: -$3.41 billion (Up by 32.3%)
- Wood: -$3.38 billion (Up by 36.6%)
- Ores, slag, ash: -$2 billion (Up by 64.8%)
- Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: -$1.8 billion (Up by 28.9%)
- Aluminum: -$1.54 billion (Up by 108.1%)
- Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): -$1.46 billion (Up by 2.4%)
Netherlands has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits for mineral fuels-related products. The latter product category includes crude oil and, in lesser amounts, petroleum gases and coal.
These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate the Netherlands’ competitive disadvantages in the international automotive and energy markets, but also represent key opportunities for the Netherlands to improve its position in the global economy through focused innovations.
Dutch Export Companies
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)
- LyondellBasell Industries (diversified chemicals)
- NXP Semiconductors (semiconductors)
- Philips (industrial conglomerate)
- Royal Dutch Shell (oil & gas operations)
- 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)
Searchable List of Most Valuable Dutch Export Products
The following searchable table displays 100 of the most in-demand goods shipped from the Netherlands during 2021. Shown beside each product label is its total export value then the percentage increase or decrease since 2020.
|Rank||Dutch Export Product||2021 Value (US$)||Change|
|1||Processed petroleum oils||$51,968,277,000||+49.6%|
|2||Machinery for making semi-conductors||$19,941,373,000||+32.7%|
|3||Phone devices including smartphones||$19,296,963,000||-1.5%|
|4||Medication mixes in dosage||$19,263,205,000||-0.9%|
|5||Electro-medical equipment (e.g. xrays)||$15,685,447,000||+21%|
|6||Computers, optical readers||$14,491,407,000||+15.8%|
|9||Blood fractions (including antisera)||$11,137,435,000||+62.3%|
|12||Miscellaneous live plants||$6,369,339,000||+27.6%|
|14||Fresh or dried flowers (for bouquets, ornamental)||$5,725,766,000||+34%|
|16||Coal tar oils (high temperature distillation)||$5,640,083,000||+60.8%|
|18||Other diagnostic/lab reagents||$4,798,680,000||+20.7%|
|21||Yachts, other pleasure/sports vessels||$4,439,328,000||+37.6%|
|23||Iron or steel scrap||$4,290,534,000||+74.4%|
|25||Miscellaneous animal feed preparations||$4,208,574,000||+16.2%|
|26||Other food preparations||$4,053,624,000||+12.6%|
|28||Electrical converters/power units||$3,690,726,000||+26.2%|
|29||Solar power diodes/semi-conductors||$3,458,345,000||+54.8%|
|32||Computer parts, accessories||$2,991,893,000||+13.8%|
|34||Flour/meal/starch/malt extract food preparations||$2,948,510,000||-12.8%|
|35||Miscellaneous plastic items||$2,855,030,000||+22.7%|
|37||Fresh or chilled beef||$2,755,797,000||+19.7%|
|39||Rubber tires (new)||$2,566,479,000||+21.1%|
|40||Flat-rolled iron or non-alloy steel products (plated/coated)||$2,566,268,000||+29.3%|
|41||Heavy machinery (bulldozers, excavators, road rollers)||$2,546,923,000||+31.6%|
|43||Plastic packing goods, lids, caps||$2,530,342,000||+20.7%|
|44||Bread, biscuits, cakes, pastries||$2,526,822,000||+20.8%|
|46||Physical/chemical analysis tools||$2,487,189,000||+24.1%|
|47||Hot-rolled iron or non-alloy steel products||$2,461,765,000||+70.8%|
|48||Non-alcoholic drinks (not water/juice/milk)||$2,438,182,000||+23%|
|49||Sowing seeds, fruits, spores||$2,424,510,000||+4.5%|
|51||Chemical industry products/residuals||$2,315,840,000||+23.9%|
|52||Lower-voltage switches, fuses||$2,266,039,000||+32.9%|
|55||Liquid pumps and elevators||$2,219,435,000||+12%|
|56||Industrial preparation machinery||$2,218,153,000||+10.2%|
|60||TV receiver/transmit/digital cameras||$2,168,214,000||+25.8%|
|61||Centrifuges, filters and purifiers||$2,162,510,000||+14.2%|
|62||Chocolate, other cocoa preparations||$2,129,351,000||+15.9%|
|63||Miscellaneous fresh/chilled vegetables||$2,124,839,000||+1.7%|
|67||Tomatoes (fresh or chilled)||$2,055,096,000||+7.4%|
|69||Miscellaneous iron and steel structures||$2,038,387,000||-5.1%|
|71||Other prepared/preserved vegetables (frozen)||$1,963,540,000||+20.6%|
|72||Other organic cleaning preparations||$1,927,902,000||+21.5%|
|75||Flat-rolled stainless steel items||$1,875,015,000||+47.4%|
|78||Plastic plates, sheets, film, tape, strips||$1,793,568,000||+26.9%|
|79||Paper containers, cellulose wadding||$1,766,129,000||+32.3%|
|80||Miscellaneous iron or steel items||$1,765,192,000||+16.9%|
|81||Cases, handbags, wallets||$1,753,874,000||+10.2%|
|82||Piston engine parts||$1,747,474,000||+17.6%|
|83||Jerseys, pullovers (knit or crochet)||$1,731,607,000||+24.8%|
|85||Miscellaneous fruits (fresh)||$1,714,247,000||+12.2%|
|87||Models, puzzles, miscellaneous toys||$1,709,150,000||+28%|
|88||Sutures, special pharmaceutical goods||$1,702,027,000||+72.9%|
|89||Air or vacuum pumps||$1,688,483,000||+17.6%|
|91||Concentrated/sweetened milk, cream||$1,663,907,000||+6.4%|
|92||Women's clothing (not knit or crochet)||$1,663,018,000||+37.1%|
|93||Fruit and vegetable juices||$1,637,195,000||+11.3%|
|95||Plant bulbs, tubers, roots||$1,630,433,000||+20%|
|96||Seats (excluding barber/dentist chairs)||$1,618,524,000||+19.6%|
|97||Taps, valves, similar appliances||$1,609,503,000||+8.2%|
|98||Men's suits, trousers (not knit or crochet)||$1,608,733,000||+18.4%|
|100||Industrial fatty acids and alcohols||$1,555,146,000||+67.8%|
By value, these 100 exported goods were worth a subtotal of US$423.4 billion or over three-fifths (61.2%) for all products exported from the Netherlands during 2021.
In macroeconomic terms, the Netherlands’ total exported goods represent 63% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2021 ($1.098 trillion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 63% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2021 compares to 68.4% for 2020. Those percentages suggest a relatively decreasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Netherlands’ total economic performance, albeit based on a short timeframe. Also, please note that those metrics include a significant amount of re-exporting activity.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. The average unemployment rate for the Netherlands was 4.226% in April 2022, compared to an average 4.851% for 2021, according to the International Monetary Fund.
See also Netherlands Top 10 Imports, Netherlands Top 10 Major Export Companies and Netherlands Top Trading Partners
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Country Profiles, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on May 27, 2022
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on May 27, 2022
IMPORTERS.com The Online Market for G20 Importers, Netherlands Import Export Directory. Accessed on May 27, 2022
International Monetary Fund, Exchange Rates selected indicators (National Currency per U.S. dollar, period average). Accessed on May 27, 2022
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on May 27, 2022
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on May 27, 2022
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on May 27, 2022
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on May 27, 2022
Wikipedia, List of Companies of the Netherlands. Accessed on May 27, 2022
Wikipedia, Netherlands. Accessed on May 27, 2022
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on May 27, 2022