Agricultural exports increase by more than 4%

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Agricultural exports increase by more than 4%

Gepubliceerd op
20 januari 2017

Last year, the Netherlands exported more agricultural products than ever before. Agricultural exports are up 4.4% compared with 2015, amounting to 85 billion euros. This was reported by Netherlands Statistics and Wageningen Economic Research on the basis of joint research commissioned by the Ministry of Economic Affairs.

Evolution of Dutch agricultural exports, share of agriculture in total export value
Evolution of Dutch agricultural exports, share of agriculture in total export value

Source: CBS, estimation Nov, Dec 2016: CBS and Wageningen Economic Research

Globally, the Netherlands is the second agricultural exporter after the United States. Its major agricultural export products continue to be ornamental crops such as flowers, plants, nursery crops and flower bulbs. This is followed by meat, dairy and eggs, vegetables and fruit. Alongside the 85 billion euros of exports of primary and secondary agricultural products (see explanatory notes), 2016 saw an increase in exports of high-value, knowledge-intensive agricultural products (known as ‘tertiary agricultural products’). Taking into account this technology export, agriculture-related exports amount to 94 billion euros.

Imports rising less quickly

The import value of primary and secondary agricultural products is rising less quickly (1.6%) than exports, amounting to 57.1 billion euros. This difference is partly due to a price effect: while export prices are increasing slightly, there is also a modest drop in price in terms of imports. This has resulted in a higher trade balance than in 2015, with the 2016 trade surplus in agricultural products rising by 2.7 billion to reach 27.9 billion euros. This is 55% of the Netherlands’ overall trade surplus. Fruit and cocoa are the most important agricultural imported goods. Developments such as successful or unsuccessful harvests, the expansion of cultivation areas or an increase in production in other parts of Europe or elsewhere have a large impact on the Netherlands’ trade value and international trade figures.

Fruit exports often re-exports

If one looks solely at the export of Dutch products (excluding re-exports), then the ranking of the most important products is comparable with exports (including re-exports), with ornamental crops, meat, dairy and eggs and vegetables all at the top. As fruit is often grown outside the Netherlands, it is not a prominent Dutch export product.

Main agricultural export products, 2016
Main agricultural export products, 2016

Source: CBS, estimation Nov, Dec 2016: CBS and Wageningen Economic Research

As a result, without taking account re-exports, fruit comes nineteenth in the ranking. On the other hand, preparations of grain, flour and milk are three places higher once adjusted for re-export. These products include baby milk powder, an important export product that is predominantly made in the Netherlands.

Germany most important trade partner

Most Dutch agricultural trade is with neighbouring countries, with more than a quarter of agricultural exports destined for Germany. Sales to Germany mostly consist of potatoes, vegetables and fruit (18%), ornamental crops (12%) and animals and meat (12%). Germany even imports as much as three quarters of some Dutch exports, such as eggs for consumption and live pigs.

In 2016, the Netherlands imported 57.1 billion euros of agricultural products. Supplying 10.7 billion euros of goods, Germany is the most important country of origin of agricultural products imported into the Netherlands. Belgium and France follow, but by a fairly wide margin.

Trade in agricultural goods according to origin and destination (2016 estimation)
Trade in agricultural goods according to origin and destination (2016 estimation)

Source: Statistics Netherlands: estimation for November and December by Statistics Netherlands and Wageningen Economic Research.

The Netherlands most important country of origin of German agricultural imports

As the supplier of 24% of German agricultural goods, the Netherlands has a very strong position in the German market. This percentage increased slightly in 2016. After the Netherlands, France is the most significant country of origin of German agricultural imports. The proportion of products from France remained unchanged from 2015 to 2016.