The Netherlands has a versatile business sector with an emphasis on industry, trade and transport. The country’s location makes it a natural gateway to much of Western Europe, and the economy is therefore largely characterized by trade. The Netherlands has a relatively large import of raw materials, which are processed domestically (especially in the high-tech agricultural and metal and petrochemical industries) and exported.
Agriculture in the Netherlands is very intensive, both in terms of production and distribution, and employs only 3.2% of the employed (2004). About. 60% of the total area is cultivated and the land has high area yields. Despite the high population density, the country has a surplus of agricultural products. Agriculture gave approx. 13% of the country’s export revenue. Horticulture is the most important agricultural industry, and the country has a traditional production of flowers and bulbs. In addition, livestock farming, with the production of dairy products mainly for export, is an important industry. It is also widespread with growing potatoes, sugar beets, onions, wheat and barley.
Production of important growth 2004
|sugar beet||6 500 000|
|potatoes||6 400 000|
|Wheat||1 228 000|
Leading fishing port is the IJmuiden west of Amsterdam. The most important catches are mackerel, herring, clams and cod fish. Almost the entire catch is taken in the Atlantic, only small quantities are taken in freshwater fishing. The mussel farming takes place especially in Zeeland.
Energy and mining
The most important mineral resource in the Netherlands is natural gas, and the country is among the world’s largest natural gas producers. The natural gas field around Groningen is among Europe’s most productive. The production of natural gas covers more than half of the domestic energy demand. A large part of the gas is exported via pipelines to neighboring countries and France. Gas has also been found in the Dutch part of the North Sea. Petroleum extraction is limited to a limited extent in Zuid-Holland and Groningen. Great salt recovery.
20.8% of the working population (2003) was employed in industry. The most important industrial sector is the food industry, which mainly processes domestic agricultural products (milk, potatoes, sugar beets) or imported tropical products in the port cities (cocoa, vegetable oils, tobacco etc.). Otherwise, the traditionally most important industrial groups are the mechanical and metallurgical, electrical, chemical and textile industries. The most expansive of the newer industrial sectors is the chemical industry, with an emphasis on oil refineries, especially in the Rotterdam area (Europoort), and in Geleen, Limburg, where the capital from the closed coal mining business is invested.
Of heavy industry, shipyards with a center of gravity along the Noordzeekanaal to Amsterdam and Nieuwe Waterweg to Rotterdam are important. At the IJmuiden in Velsen is a steel plant and Delfzijl in Groningen has aluminum plants. Otherwise, lighter mechanical and electrical industries dominate with the Philips plants in Eindhoven (which also has DAF car factories), machine factories in Hengelo and electronic industry in Hilversum.
Production of some important goods 2000
Minerals and metals
|crude||5 667 000|
|crude oil||18 000 000 1|
1) Number of barrels
|Paper and cardboard||3 200 000|
|Sugar (refined)||1 061 000|
|Fertilizer||1 200 000|
|Bicycles||1 155 000 1|
1) Number of pcs.
Tourism has become a major industry, with approx. 10 million foreign visitors in 2004; of these, approx. 3 million from Germany. About half of the tourists visit Amsterdam, but other picturesque cities, the canals and the distinctive cultural landscape also attract many tourists. The resorts of Scheveningen, Noordwijk and Zandvoort are very popular.
According to Countryaah, the Netherlands has a customs union with Belgium and Luxembourg (in the Benelux Union) from 1948 and is a member of the European Union (EU). The import weight is twice that of the export; mainly heavy goods such as petroleum, ore and other raw materials are imported, and food, refinery and lighter finished products are exported. Germany is the main trading partner – 24.4% of the country’s total exports went there (2003), and 20% of imports come from there. Other important export markets are Belgium/Luxembourg, France, the United Kingdom and Italy. In addition to Germany, most Dutch imports come from Belgium/Luxembourg, the USA, France and the United Kingdom.
Foreign trade as a percentage by country 2003
Exports by percentage by main product groups 2003
|Foods and live animals||12.6|
|hence fruits and vegetables||27.2|
|Petroleum and petroleum products||5.0|
|Machines and transport equipment||32.2|
|including computer equipment and office machines||32.6|
|telecommunications and audio equipment||8.6|
|other electrical equipment and appliances||22.0|
|vehicles and parts||14.0|
Imports by percentage by main product groups 2003
|Foods and live animals||8.8|
|Petroleum and petroleum products||8.4|
|Machines and transport equipment||37.7|
|including computer equipment and office machines||31.0|
|telecommunications and audio equipment||10.9|
|other electrical equipment and appliances||20.2|
|road machinery, engines and parts||17.6|
Transport and Communications
Inland waterways (rivers and canals) are the dominant modes of transport for heavier goods. There are approx. 5000 km of navigable waterways, and about 1/3 of all freight in the country go by boat. There is a large inland fleet (barges, tugs, etc.). Rotterdam is an international transit port, especially for shipping to the Rhine, as well as one of the world’s largest and most modern port cities. Amsterdam is the second most important port city.
About. 70% of the country’s total rail network is electrified, and the total rail network is approx. 3000 km. The road network is well developed. Schiphol near Amsterdam is an important international airport. The airline KLM is one of the world’s oldest commercial airlines and has routes all over the world.