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09 April 2020 Statistic

The surplus on the current account of the Dutch balance of payments showed a slight decline in 2019, landing at EUR 83 billion. This corresponds to 10% of Dutch gross domestic product (GDP), see Figure 1. 2018 saw a record surplus on the current account of EUR 84 billion, or 11% of GDP.

The 2019 figure is still well above the 6% threshold set by the European Commission. According to data published by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Netherlands ranks fourth in the world in terms of its current account surplus.

Decline in primary income balance offsets rise in trade balance

The trade balance, which is the net figure of goods and services exports and imports, grew by EUR 4.5 billion to EUR 87 billion throughout 2019. At the same time, the balance of incoming and outgoing income fell by EUR 5.7 billion to EUR -4.1 billion.

The decline in the primary income balance was caused in part by a EUR 1.3 billion increase in wages paid to employees living abroad. In addition, the balance of income from foreign investment was lower in 2019 (EUR -2.9 billion), as Dutch profits distributed to foreign parent companies showed a bigger increase (EUR 16.8 billion) than profits achieved abroad that were distributed to Dutch parent companies (EUR 11.6 billion).

Fourth quarter marks a positive outlier

In the fourth quarter of 2019, the surplus peaked at EUR 30.6 billion, or 15% of GDP, after having declined two quarters in a row year-on-year (see Figure 2). The increase was mainly driven by a higher services balance and an improved primary income balance.

The underlying trend in primary income was sharply negative, however, as both incoming and outgoing profits fell, by EUR 8.2 billion and EUR 8.5 billion, respectively. This was primarily attributable to special financial institutions, which distributed less in dividends. Likewise, interest payments made to foreign recipients were EUR 1 billion lower, whereas interest receipts were roughly unchanged.