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Economic Overview

For the latest updates on the key economic responses from governments to address the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, please consult the IMF's policy tracking platform Policy Responses to COVID-19.

The Netherlands is the sixth-largest economic power in the Eurozone and the fifth-largest exporter of goods. The country is very open to trade and consequently to the global economic conjuncture. For the past few years, the recovery in Europe had allowed the Dutch economy to grow at a dynamic pace, although trade uncertainty at the global level, the Brexit process and most of all the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic caused the Dutch economy to contract. Nevertheless, the country’s GDP rebounded in 2021 (+4.9%) and 2022 (+4.5%), on the back of solid export and investment growth (IMF). For 2023, a set of measures has been announced to mitigate the impact of high energy prices and support domestic demand. However, the decrease in households’ real disposable income, tightening financial conditions and the weak external environment caused by the Russia-Ukraine conflict are expected to weigh heavily on growth, which is forecast at 0.8% for the year. Rising investments and a positive contribution from external trade should help the country’s economy grow at a faster pace in 2024 (+1.7% - IMF).

In recent years the government’s fiscal policy has been expansionary; nevertheless, the Dutch public finances remained sound, recording budget surpluses. The trend inverted as a consequence of the fiscal measures taken to contain the Covid-19-induced crisis and then the effects of high inflation prompted by the conflict in Ukraine. Government revenues picked up in 2022 driven by income taxes and Dutch gas fields, contributing to a reduction in the fiscal deficit, which stood at 1.2% of GDP. In light of an expansionary budget that includes a price cap on electricity and gas, a reduction in the excise duty on fuel, and a rise of the minimum wage by 10%, the government deficit is forecast to increase to 1.4% of GDP in 2023 (IMF – 4% according to the EU Commission) and 2.1% next year. Similarly, the debt-to-GDP ratio is projected to increase from 50.3% of GDP in 2022 to 52.4% in 2023 and 53.2% in 2024 (EU Commission). Fueled by high energy prices, inflation reached a record level of 12% in 2022. The aforementioned price cap should contribute to a reduction in headline inflation, forecast at 8% in 2023, before the rate returns closer to the ECB’s target by 2024 (2.7%  IMF).

The Netherlands presents a very high income per capita, which is distributed in a relatively equal manner. The GDP per capita is above the EU average and was estimated at USD 69,715 in 2022 (PPP – data IMF). The Dutch labour market remains tight, with the unemployment rate decreasing to 3.5% in 2022 (from 4.2% one year earlier). Nominal wages have been growing, although not as much as inflation. For 2023 and 2024, the IMF expects the unemployment rate to increase slightly to 3.9% and 4%, respectively.

Main Indicators 20222023 (E)2024 (E)2025 (E)2026 (E)
GDP (billions USD) 1,010.191,092.751,157.911,207.531,254.38
GDP (Constant Prices, Annual % Change)
GDP per Capita (USD) 57,42861,77065,19567,79870,232
General Government Balance (in % of GDP) 0.7-1.9-2.5-2.6-2.6
General Government Gross Debt (in % of GDP) 50.149.548.648.749.0
Inflation Rate (%) n/a4.
Unemployment Rate (% of the Labour Force)
Current Account (billions USD) 93.1183.0687.7290.6392.37
Current Account (in % of GDP)

Source: IMF – World Economic Outlook Database , October 2021

Country Risk

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Main Sectors of Industry

The agricultural sector represents 1.5% of the country's GDP and employs 2% of the active population (World Bank, latest data available). This sector produces high yields, which is due in part to the intensive farming of arable land. Nearly 60% of the production is exported, either directly or through the food industry. This makes the Netherlands the second-largest exporter of agricultural products in the world (after the U.S.). The main crops exported are cereals, potatoes and horticultural products. The Netherlands is also the largest flower exporter in the world. The number of companies active in the sector stands at 53,233 (Agricultural Census). According to the latest data by CBS, in 2022, the Dutch agricultural sector income increased by 1.9% compared to 2021. At the same time, animal output dropped slightly (-0.7%) while crop output fell relatively sharply by -3.4%. The total agricultural output was 2.1% lower year-on-year.

Industrial activity generates around 18.1% of the Dutch GDP, mainly through food processing, the petrochemical industry, metallurgy and the transport equipment industry. The Netherlands is also one of the largest producers and distributors of oil and natural gas. The secondary sector employs 16% of the workforce. The World Bank estimates that the manufacturing sector alone accounts for 11% of the country's GDP. Although growing by 3.3% as of October 2022, the average daily output generated by the Dutch manufacturing industry was lower compared to the preceding one and a half years.

Services account for over 52.5% of national revenue and employ 79% of the workforce. The services sector is focused mainly on transportation, distribution, logistics, banking and insurance, water engineering and new technologies. The country is also Europe's leading service provider in ocean freight, which is not surprising as its economy largely depends upon exports. The Dutch banking sector plays an important role in the economic functioning of the country and has a relatively large size when compared to the GDP, its assets accounting for 330% of GDP in 2022, with the five largest banks accounting for about 85% of the total assets of the sector (European Banking Federation).

Breakdown of Economic Activity By Sector Agriculture Industry Services
Employment By Sector (in % of Total Employment) 2.3 13.9 83.8
Value Added (in % of GDP) 1.7 18.9 68.8
Value Added (Annual % Change) -0.6 2.9 5.6

Source: World Bank - Latest available data.

Monetary Indicators 20162017201820192020
Euro (EUR) - Average Annual Exchange Rate For 1 USD 0.940.890.850.890.88

Source: World Bank - Latest available data.



Foreign Trade

Dutch prosperity has always been based on its international trade, and the geographic location of the country makes it a European trade hub, with Rotterdam being the largest European port and the third-largest in the world, handling over 465 million tons of cargo annually. With high-tech industries and services, foreign trade is one of the main pillars of the Dutch economy, representing an impressive 156% of GDP (World Bank – latest data available), one of the most open and outward-oriented economies in the world. According to data by CBS, 24% of exports in 2021 comprised machinery, followed by manufactured goods (21%), chemical products (19%), food and beverages (13%), and mineral fuels (12%). The country is also a major exporter of flowers and plants, with the horticulture sector being a significant contributor to the Dutch economy. Most of the sales are re-exportations as the country plays the role of a European trade hub; therefore, the same product categories led imports (machinery accounting for 25% of the total, against 24% of manufactured goods). In 2021, large enterprises exported over three times as much in terms of value as independent SMEs.

The share of total Dutch goods exports that went to Europe stood at 77% in 2021. As data by CBS show, Germany was the main destination, accounting for 23% of total exports, followed by Belgium (11%) and France (8%). Imports came chiefly from Germany (17%), China (10%) and Belgium (10%).

The country has a structurally positive trade balance for goods and services, which stood at around 10.3% of GDP for 2021 according to the World Bank. The Dutch goods trade achieved unprecedentedly high import and export values in 2021, and by the start of the year the Netherlands’ international trade in goods had already returned to its pre-crisis level. In the same year, the country’s exports of goods were worth USD 836.5 billion (an increase of 23.9% year-on-year), with imports growing at a faster pace (USD 758 billion; +27.1%); whereas for commercial services exports stood at USD 247.5 billion (up by one-third y-o-y), and imports at USD 236.7 billion (+40% - data by WTO). The latest figures from the National Statistical Office show that in the first quarter of 2022 the value of Dutch exports increased to EUR 196 billion (+22%), while the value of imports reached EUR 172 billion (+24%). Trade in services and goods increased by EUR 14.2 billion (+21.4%) and EUR 54.1 billion (+23.2%), respectively. As exports growth outstripped imports in absolute terms, the Dutch export surplus rose to EUR 23.7 billion.

Foreign Trade Values 20182019202020212022
Imports of Goods (million USD) 645,502635,678595,122757,380898,310
Exports of Goods (million USD) 726,697708,596674,602840,032966,708
Imports of Services (million USD) 259,493265,608217,954249,348263,950
Exports of Services (million USD) 260,177275,933228,665251,232272,899

Source: World Trade Organisation (WTO) ; Latest available data

Foreign Trade Indicators 20182019202020212022
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 158.8155.3146.5155.9175.9
Trade Balance (million USD) 84,61267,30570,71586,51677,564
Trade Balance (Including Service) (million USD) 96,36089,25291,782115,770109,059
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 4.73.2-
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 4.32.0-
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 74.172.768.272.883.2
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 84.782.578.383.192.6

Source: World Bank ; Latest available data

Foreign Trade Forecasts 2023 (e)2024 (e)2025 (e)2026 (e)2027 (e)
Volume of exports of goods and services (Annual % change)
Volume of imports of goods and services (Annual % change)

Source: IMF, World Economic Outlook ; Latest available data

Note: (e) Estimated Data

International Economic Cooperation
The Netherlands is a member of the following international economic organisations: IMF, European Union, ICC, WTO, G-10, OECD, among others. For the full list of economic and other international organisations in which participates the Netherlands click here. International organisation membership of the Netherlands is also outlined here.
Free Trade Agreements
The complete and up-to-date list of Free Trade Agreements signed by the Netherlands can be consulted here.

Main Partner Countries

Main Customers
(% of Exports)
Germany 24.5%
Belgium 12.0%
France 8.1%
United Kingdom 6.0%
United States 4.7%
See More Countries 44.7%
Main Suppliers
(% of Imports)
Germany 15.3%
Belgium 10.1%
China 9.5%
United States 8.5%
United Kingdom 6.2%
See More Countries 50.5%

Source: Comtrade, Latest Available Data



Political Outline

Current Political Leaders
King: Willem-Alexander (since 30 April 2013) - hereditary
Prime Minister: Mark Rutte (since 14 October 2010)
Next Election Dates
First Chamber: May 2023
Second Chamber: 31 March 2025
Current Political Context
Prime Minister Mark Rutte has secured a fourth term in office by renewing a largely centrist alliance between his conservative and economically liberal VVD and the liberal-centrist D66, the centre-right CDA, and the conservative CU.
Throughout 2022, the government focused its action on mitigating the impact of the high inflation on the cost of living of households and businesses, while also working on policies to secure and diversify energy supply both in the short and long term.
Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Netherlands agreed to increase the defence budget to meet NATO’s annual 2% of GDP goal from 2023.
Main Political Parties
The Netherlands has a two-tier parliament divided into two chambers. The main parties are:

- People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD): centre-right, based on free market ideas, liberal
- Democrats 66 (D66): centre, progressive-liberal and radical-democratic political party
- Party for Freedom (PVV): right-wing, known for hard stands on immigration
- Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA): centre, Christian democrats
- Socialist Party (SP): left-wing, extremely socialist
- Labour Party (PvdA): centre-left, social-democratic party
- Greenleft (GL): centre-left, eco-socialist and anti-capitalist political party
- Party For The Animals (PvdD): Environmentalism, Animal Rights, Soft-Euroscepticsm
- ChristianUnion (CU): centre, orthodox reformed political party with centre-left ideals
- 50 Plus (50+) : Pensioners interest, populism
- Reformed Political Party (SGP) : Christian Right, Social Conservatism
- DENK : Minority Rights , Identity Politics
- Forum For Democracy: National Conservatism
Executive Power
The Chief of State is the King, whose role is cerimonial. Following parliamentary (lower house) elections, the leader of the majority party or of a majority coalition is usually appointed Prime Minister (head of the Government) by the Monarch to serve a four year term. The Council of Ministers is appointed by the monarch on recommendation of the Prime Minister.
Legislative Power
Legislative power is bicameral. The parliament is called States General and consists of two chambers: the First Chamber (upper house, 75 members indirectly elected) and the Second Chamber (lower house, 150 members directly elected). Members of both chambers serve a four-year term. The Government has the right to dissolve the parliament, either one or both of the chambers.


COVID-19 Country Response

Travel restrictions
Regularly updated travel information for all countries with regards to Covid-19 related entry regulations, flight bans, test and vaccines requirements is available on TravelDoc Infopage.
To find information about the current travel regulations, including health requirements, it is also advised to consult Travel Regulations Map provided and updated on a daily basis by IATA.
Import & export restrictions
A general overview of trade restrictions which were adopted by different countries during the COVID-19 pandemic is available on the International Trade Centre's COVID-19 Temporary Trade Measures webpage.
Economic recovery plan
The summary of the EU’s economic response to the COVID-19 pandemic is available on the website of the European Council.
For the general overview of the key economic policy responses to the COVID-19 outbreak (fiscal, monetary and macroeconomic) in the Netherlands, please consult the country's dedicated section in the IMF’s Policy Tracker platform.
Support plan for businesses
For an evaluation of impact of the Covid pandemic on SMEs and an inventory of country responses to foster SME resilience, refer to the OECD's SME Covid-19 Policy Responses document.
You can also consult the World Bank's Map of SME-Support Measures in Response to COVID-19.