Netherlands Economy

Netherlands Economy


With a gross national income (GNI) per resident of (2017) US $ 46,180, the Netherlands occupies a top position in the ranking of EU countries. In addition to an important agriculture, the country has a highly developed and internationally competitive industry. The economic system is oriented towards the market economy. The rapid industrialization of the country in the period after the Second World War was determined by the large-scale expansion of the port industrial complexes, while the agricultural sector has traditionally been of great importance, but is now decreasing.

The Dutch economy is characterized by strong international interdependence and – due to the limited domestic market – by a high level of dependence on foreign trade. The development of the gross domestic product (GDP) was characterized by steady growth (2000: 3.5%; 2006: 2.9%; 2010: 1.7%). Due to the turbulence on the international financial markets, a negative development in GDP was recorded for the first time in 2012 (–1.2%; 2014: + 0.9%; 2016 + 2.2%). The budget surplus of 2.2% of GDP in 2000 turned into a budget deficit of 2.3% of GDP (2014) but recovered to a surplus of 0.4% by the end of 2016. The national debt of 69% of GDP in 2014 was also reduced to 61.8% of GDP by the end of 2016. The unemployment rate (2011: 4.4%) rose to 7.4% by 2014, but was only 6.0% in 2016 and 3.8% in 2018.

Foreign trade: With a total volume of foreign trade of (2016) 797.7 billion euros (export 425.0 billion euros, import 372.7 billion euros), the Netherlands ranks 7th among the world’s exporting nations and achieved an export surplus of 52.3 billion euros. The EU countries (2016) have the largest share of foreign trade with 60.2% of Dutch imports and 86.4% of exports. Germany (24.4% of total exports), Belgium (10.8%), Great Britain (9.5%), France (8.9%), Italy (4.3%) and the USA (3.6%) have the largest share of exports; imports are mainly from Germany (17.2%), Belgium (9.8%), China (9.1%), the USA (8.7%) and Great Britain (5.5%).

Natural resources

Only three mining products are currently of any importance: natural gas, crude oil and rock salt. The deposits of the significant natural gas reserves (proven reserves in 2016: 700 billion m 3) are located next to continental deposits in the province of Groningen in the North Sea. With a flow rate of (2016) 40.2 billion m 3the Netherlands are in 2nd place in the EU. In the case of crude oil production (in the Emsland basin and near The Hague; output 1.5 million t), the Netherlands can only cover just under 10% of its requirements with its own production. The coal mining in South Limburg was stopped in 1975. Salts are mined in the provinces of Overijssel (East Groningen) and Groningen (near Hengelo) (including processing into table salt).

Energy industry

Natural gas plays a decisive role in the domestic energy supply. Around 98.7% of all households are supplied with natural gas. With a share of almost 53.5% in electricity generation, natural gas is the most important energy source, followed by coal (29%) and crude oil (3%). Nuclear power plants have been built in Dodewaard (shut down) and Borssele (482 MW net output). Plans for the expansion of nuclear energy have been postponed (share of nuclear energy in electricity generation in 2015: 1.4%). Almost 14% of electricity generation is based on renewable energies (wind, sun, biomass).


According to allcountrylist, the industrial structure has changed drastically since the 1970s. Shipyards, the textile and clothing industries lost their importance, while the chemical industry, plastics processing, and the natural gas and oil industries gained significantly in importance. The port of Rotterdam is the center of oil refining and the chemical industry. It belongs to a coastal chemical region from Terneuzen to Delfzijl. Other important branches of industry are the food and beverage industry (e.g. breweries, dairies), metal processing, the automotive industry, and the electrotechnical and electronic industry. Many branches of industry owe their importance to the once cheap raw material supply from the former colonial empire, such as tobacco processing, confectionery, cocoa and chocolate production, the production of edible oil and margarine, the textile and rubber industries. The diamond grinding shop in Amsterdam is a specialty.

The concentration of industry around Rotterdam led to congestion in this area, which is why the ports on the Scheldt and Moerdijk in particular have benefited from the growth of the metallurgical and petrochemical industry in recent years. Today North Brabant is the most important industrial province. Besides Rotterdam, Eindhoven and Amsterdam are the most important industrial locations.

Service sector

The Dutch economy has a strong outward orientation due to its limited internal market and its favorable transport links (major seaports and airports), which is reflected in the high number of people employed in the service sector (over 80% of the workforce) and a high share of this sector in GDP (2016: 78.5%). In addition to the public service, large retail chains and logistics companies, this sector also includes companies from the areas of finance and tourism.

Tourism: The Netherlands is one of the most popular European travel destinations because of its extensive range of cultural and leisure activities. The main attractions are the West Frisian Islands, the Wadden Sea and the seaside resorts on the coast as well as the IJsselmeer; inland there are the historic city centers (e.g. of Amsterdam, Delft, Gouda and Groningen), the numerous museums, art galleries and amusement parks. In 2014, 13.9 million foreign guests (mainly from Germany, Great Britain and Belgium) were counted.

Netherlands Economy