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The Netherlands: Small Country, Huge Economy Thanks to Exploding Exports

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This guide provides an overview of the Netherlands’ economy, including the country’s primary imports and exports.

Netherlands Economy Overview

Despite having only 17 million inhabitants, the Netherlands is ranked as the 17th largest economy in the world in terms of GDP.

The country is the #7 export economy with annual exports of $550 billion. However, imports of $614 billion mean it has a negative trade balance of -$63.4 billion.

Netherlands’ Top Exports

Here is a breakdown of the most important products exported by the Netherlands, both commodities and other notable exports.

Commodity Exports

  • Refined petroleum – $46.9 billion
  • Crude petroleum – $9.73 billion
  • Petroleum gas – $7.33 billion
  • Cheese – $3.88 billion
  • Scrap iron – $3.1 billion

If you’re interested in trading some of these commodities, you can jump to our list of recommended regulated brokers in at the end of the page.

Other Notable Exports

  • Broadcasting equipment – $18.1 billion
  • Packaged medicaments – $16.2 billion
  • Computers – $11.2 billion
  • Office machine parts – $11.2 billion 
  • Photo lab equipment – $9.81 billion

Did you know? The Netherlands is the leading exporter of cocoa butter with a 27.5% share of an annual export market worth $5.64 billion, with Germany and Belgium receiving 52.8% of the country’s cocoa butter exports.

The Netherlands’ top export destinations are Germany ($111 billion), Belgium-Luxembourg ($71.3 billion), the United Kingdom ($50.7 billion), France ($38.3 billion), and the United States ($25.3 billion).

Netherlands’ Top Imports

Here is a breakdown of the most important products imported by the Netherlands, both commodities and other notable imports.

Commodity Imports

  • Crude petroleum – $55.4 billion
  • Refined petroleum – $48 billion
  • Petroleum gas – $5.5 billion
  • Coal briquettes – $4.54 billion
  • Raw aluminum – $4.3 billion

Other Notable Imports

  • Broadcasting equipment – $21 billion
  • Computers – $17.3 billion
  • Packaged medicaments – $16 billion
  • Office machine parts – $15.4 billion
  • Cars – $13 billion

GDP of the Netherlands

The Netherlands has a GDP of $914 billion according to the latest recorded figures. This equates to a GDP per capita of $53,024. Between 2008 and 2018, the Netherlands ‘ GDP showed a negative growth rate of -$3.62%. Likewise, the GDP per capita declined by -$8.02%.

Details on the Netherlands’ Exports/Imports

Refined Petroleum

Refined petroleum accounts for 8.52% of the Netherlands’ total annual exports. The country is ranked as the fourth-largest exporter with a 6.23% share of an annual global export market worth $753 billion.

There are five main oil refineries in the Netherlands. These refineries are geographically positioned for optimizing inland demand while serving export markets equally efficiently.

Scrap Iron

The Netherlands is the fifth-largest exporter of scrap iron and enjoys a 7.44% share of an annual export market worth $41.6 billion.

Turkey (24.7%) and Finland (19.4%) are key export destinations for the Netherlands’ scrap iron, while the USA and China account for only 6% of its annual exports of this product.


Only Mexico (24.8%) exports more tomatoes than the Netherlands (20%). When you include Spain (12.6%), these three countries account for almost 60% of the total annual tomato trade of $9.26 billion.

The Netherlands has committed to sustainable agriculture, which means tomato growers are among the farmers in the country who have managed to work toward the goal of producing twice as much food while using half as many resources.


The Netherlands has a 4.81% share of the annual $61.1 billion raw aluminum market and it is the seventh-largest exporter in the world. It is also the fastest-growing importer of raw aluminum, currently ranking in fourth place.

Germany is the biggest destination for the Netherlands’ raw aluminum exports, receiving 40.1% of the $2.94 billion exported by the Dutch.

Interesting Facts About the Netherlands

  • About 80% of the world’s flower bulbs originate from the Netherlands.
  • The country is the most densely populated in Europe with 17 million people squeezed into 41,500 square kilometers.
  • There are estimated to be more bicycles in the country than people.
  • About 60% of the land is dedicated to agriculture and horticulture.

Interested in Trading Commodities?

Interested in trading iron ore, petroleum, and other important commodities from the Netherlands? Start your research with reviews of these regulated brokers available in .

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