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Russian invasion contributes to fall in Dutch current account balance
The Dutch current account balance of €20.2 billion in the first quarter of 2022 was €2.3 billion lower than a year earlier, according to figures from DNB. This was due to lower revenues from abroad, including Russia. The underlying value of both imports and exports rose sharply due to increased energy prices.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine in late February led to several significant changes in the Netherlands’ financial relationship with Russia in the first quarter of 2022. Primary income received from Russia, for example, decreased by €618 million compared to a year earlier, due mainly to the losses which Dutch companies incurred on their Russian subsidiaries.
The value of exports of goods and services from the Netherlands to Russia decreased by 8.3% (€113 million down) and 8.7% (€48 million down) respectively. In contrast, the value of imports of both goods and services rose sharply, by €3.4 billion (+133.7%) and €26 million (+27%) respectively. This increase largely reflects the rise in energy prices.
Trade value and export surplus rising
The total value of Dutch trade with foreign countries in the first quarter of 2022 was substantially higher than in the same period a year earlier.
The value of Dutch exports increased to €196 billion (+22%), while the value of imports grew to €172 billion (+24%). Trade in services and goods increased by €14.2 billion (+21.4%) and €54.1 billion (+23.2%) respectively in value terms, compared to a year earlier. The increases were driven in part by the Dutch economic rebound from the COVID-19 crisis.
As exports growth outstripped imports in absolute terms, the Dutch export surplus rose to €23.7 billion. Compared with the same quarter in 2021, this is a €1.3 billion increase.
Surging energy prices boost trade value increase
The increase in the value of goods trade was also largely driven by the energy price increases. Among other factors, they boosted the total value of trade in natural gas by €8.6 billion, almost tripling from a year earlier. The value of trade in other energy products rose by €11.1 billion, an increase of 55% compared to a year earlier.
After having accounted for 11% of the value of total Dutch trade in the first quarter of 2021, the value of trade in energy rose to 15% in the first quarter of 2022.
What is the current account?
The current account is one of the three component parts of the balance of payments – the overview of all transactions between the Netherlands and other countries over a specified period. The other two components are the capital account and the financial account. The current account includes international trade in goods and services, as well as primary and secondary income transactions. The difference between the current account income and expenditure is known as the current account balance. For the past few decades, the Netherlands has had a positive current account balance, also referred to as a surplus, which means that income has exceeded expenditure. In recent years, a relatively large export surplus, which is the difference between exports and imports of goods and services, has contributed to the surplus on the Dutch current account.
Primary income transactions include wages, interest and dividends. Examples of secondary income transactions are pension and insurance payments, development aid and personal funds transfers. In terms of secondary incomes, more money has left the country than entered it in recent years, while the primary income balance has fluctuated.
Table 12.1:Balance of payments from 2015 onwards