Current account surplus in the Netherlands declines slightly

Statistical News Release
Date 14 September 2012

In the second quarter of 2012, the current account surplus came out at EUR 11.2 billion. This was below the level recorded in the preceding quarter, when the EUR 17 billion line was crossed for the first time. Relative to the second quarter of 2011, which is better comparable, the current account surplus also fell, by EUR 1.5 billion. This primarily reflected a decreased income account surplus.

The current account surplus fell in the second quarter of 2012, having risen gradually for more than three years in a row. As a result, the annualised surplus also dropped slightly from a little over EUR 60 billion to just below that amount, for the first time since 2009 (see chart). This compares to a little over 10% of gross domestic product.

Current account surplus

As usual, the largest contribution to the current account surplus was made by the trade balance surplus. This ended up at EUR 9.7 billion, virtually unchanged from the second quarter of 2011. The value of exports of goods, which now totals over EUR 100 billion per quarter, increased by 6% (relative to 2011 Q2), imports grew by 7%, both mainly owing to volume growth. Exports and imports of services climbed by comparable numbers. The surplus on the services balance remained unchanged at EUR 2.1 billion.

Contrary to the picture seen in the past few years, the international goods and services trade surplus did not grow further. Following a temporary dip in the course of 2009, the combined goods and services surplus had grown without interruption to EUR 58 billion year-on-year, from EUR 40 billion. This was mainly attributable to the recovery of goods exports.

In addition, the steady increase in the Netherlands' current account surplus reflected growing income from outward direct investments. However, in the second quarter of 2012 the income balance surplus showed the first significant decline in a long time to EUR 1.1 billion, from EUR 3.2 billion in 2011 Q2. Seasonal effects are especially substantial here due to dividend payments. The annualised income account surplus came to just over EUR 12 billion. Dutch multinational companies are still making a large contribution to this surplus. Their earnings achieved abroad constitute income for our country, also because part of these earnings is retained and reinvested, rather than being paid out as income to foreign portfolio investors.