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Higher export surplus boosts current account balance

Statistical news release

The surplus on the current account of the Dutch balance of payments rose by €7.3 billion in the second quarter of 2023 (year-on-year) to €23.2 billion. The value of imports of goods fell more sharply than exports, further boosting the export surplus. In addition, Dutch pension funds and other institutions benefited from higher interest income from abroad.

Published: 22 September 2023

Scheepvaart vlak voor de Boulevard / strand van Vlissingen op de Noordzee bij de monding van de Westerschelde.

The current account includes the import and export of goods and services, as well as cross-border income flows such as wages, dividends and interests. The current account is part of the balance of payments, which reflects all transactions between the Netherlands and foreign countries in a given period, and thus provides an impression of how the Dutch economy is faring. For more information, see also our updated balance of payments dashboard.

Energy price slides drive export surplus

The export surplus of the Dutch economy rose by €4.1 billion in the second quarter, wholly driven by the increase in the net export of goods by €4.8 billion. The value of Dutch exports fell by 5%, but imports fell more sharply (down 7%) due to lower prices for natural gas, crude oil and coal. The declines in both imports and exports could mostly be ascribed to trade with countries outside the euro area such as the United States, Norway and Saudi Arabia.

The services account balance contracted by €0.7 billion to €8.9 billion. Both the value of imports and exports of services rose year-on-year, with the value of imports rising slightly more.

Higher interest income pension funds boosts balance of primary income

The primary income balance, which includes cross-border wages, dividends and interest, came in at a negative €2.5 billion in the second quarter. Traditionally, dividend payments to foreign shareholders pushed the balance into negative territory. Compared to a year earlier, there was nevertheless a €4.0 billion improvement in the balance due to a stronger increase in interest receipts than interest payments.

Rising interest rates meant that pension funds (+€2.6 billion) in particular received higher interest income from abroad in the second quarter. At pension funds, this resulted in a balance on interest flows with foreign countries of €7.5 billion (up €2.6 billion year-on-year). In particular, they benefited from increased coupon rates on foreign bonds and higher interest rates on foreign margin accounts. These margin accounts serve as collateral for the interest rate derivative contracts that pension funds enter into to hedge against interest rate risk.

In other sectors higher interest income and higher interest payments to foreign countries were more balanced on average.

The secondary income balance fell by €700 million to a negative €1.4 billion. This component of the current account includes development aid and personal remittances, and generally has a modest impact on the total current account balance in the Netherlands.

Further information

Table 12.1: Balance of payments from 2015 onwards
Table 12.5: Primary income account

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