The deficit on the Netherlands’ goods account vis-à-vis non-euro area countries expanded by EUR 6.9 billion in the first five months of 2008 (compared to the same period last year), reaching EUR 30.6 billion. This means that the Netherlands accounts for 45% of the Eurostat-measured increase in the fifteen euro area countries’ combined trade deficit. Eurostat, the European statistical bureau, recently released figures showing a materially expanded deficit (EUR -13.2 billion) on the euro area countries’ goods account for the first five months of this year.
This means a turnaround of EUR 15.3 billion on the EUR 2.1 billion surplus recorded a year earlier. As the increase in the deficit is accounted for notably by higher spending on energy, the energy balance vis-à-vis non-euro area countries has deteriorated further.
The Netherlands’ total goods account still shows a major surplus on trade, however. Looking at the underlying Netherlands’ goods accounts vis-à-vis euro area and non-euro area countries, an extraordinary picture emerges: the Netherlands has an import surplus vis-à-vis non-euro area countries, and an export surplus vis-à-vis euro area countries.
Here an important role is played by the openness of the Netherlands’ economy and especially its function as a ‘transit country’ for goods from outside the EU/euro area. Upon arrival in the Netherlands, these goods are cleared by the customs, and are then exported (practically) without further processing to another country within the EU/euro area. The goods are not at any time owned by a Dutch resident.