In terms of surface area and population size, the Netherlands is not a particularly large country and ranks 133rd and 61st worldwide. In stark contrast, the country’s economic performance ranks much higher.The Netherlands has the sixteenth largest economy in the world and the sixth largest in the European Union.
Compared to many other EU Member States, the Netherlands has a highly open economy, which is why the country was hit hard by the sharp downturn in world trade in 2008 and 2009. Nevertheless, the economic downturn in the Netherlands was no greater than the fall in GDP for the entire Euro – zone. When considered over a longer period of time, however, the Netherlands shows excellent economic growth compared to other prosperous EU Member States and the US. This is an exceptionally good performance for a highly developed economy with a high standard of living. According to research carried out by the Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis, the Netherlands earns almost 30% of its income from the export of goods and services.
As the fifth largest exporter of goods in the world, the Netherlands occupies a prominent position when it comes to world trade. In 2011, the Netherlands exported goods worth a total of more than 638 billion US dollars, which is 3.8% of the world’s total exports. The Netherlands is also a significant exporter of commercial services – exports of commercial services amounted to 131 billion US dollars in 2011, which placed the country ninth in the world rankings.
As well as being a major exporter, the Netherlands also imports large quantities of goods: almost 600 billion US dollars’ worth of goods in 2011. With a 3.4% share of the global total, the country is the seventh-largest importer of goods in the world. The Netherlands is also a significant importer of commercial services – imports of commercial services amounted to 119 billion US dollars in 2011, which placed the Netherlands eighth in the world rankings.
Dutch businesses are truly international in their orientation. Dutch-based multinationals, such as AkzoNobel, Heineken, KPN, ING, Philips, Unilever and Shell, have made substantial foreign investments. According to the Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency, the country has provided a home for around 6,300 foreign companies, including the likes of BASF, Cisco Systems, Microsoft, Nike, Sabic and Siemens.