Logo of the PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency
To the main menuTo the main content

Benefits and impacts of Dutch international trade: remote impacts of our economy and taking shared responsibility

Infographic | 06-07-2017

Due to globalisation, international trade flows have increased significantly over recent decades. Between 1996 and 2007, imports of goods into the Netherlands increased 7% by monetary value (constant prices). Forests and agricultural ecosystems in remote economies provide the Dutch economy with a range of natural resources. Imported resources are processed into final products that are sold in the Netherlands or to other countries. Our economy is therefore strongly interrelated with economies around the world.

The trade in biotic resources and derived products accounts for nearly 15% of all imports in monetary terms. The Dutch food and feed industry strongly depends on these imports. Non-EU countries provide 40% of the imports in agricultural resource and food products, and after processing, most products are sold on the European market. Cacao, soya and palm oil are the three most important agricultural commodities of tropical origin: cacao mainly comes from Africa, palm oil from Southeast Asia and soya from South American countries and the United States.

As part of their corporate strategies, companies in the Netherlands take shared responsibility for mitigating the impacts elsewhere in the world, caused within their supply chains. This applies especially to the impacts from production processes in countries that have less well-developed environmental legislation and governance. Shaping this shared responsibility is an important part of the Dutch Aid and Trade policy agenda.

Source data

Trade data for agricultural resources and derived food products in 2015 are compiled by PBL from the UN Comtrade Database, selecting categories 1 to 24 (with the exception of category 6). Goods that are exported in the same state as previously imported (so-called re-exports) are also included. The following information sources were used:

CBS, CPB, PBL and SCP (2011). Monitor Duurzaam Nederland 2011 [Monitor sustainable Netherlands 2011 (in Dutch)]. Statistics Netherlands, The Hague.

UN (2017). UN Comtrade Database, https://comtrade.un.org/, accessed 24 January 2017.

Wilting HC and Van Oorschot MM. (2017). Quantifying biodiversity footprints of Dutch economic sectors: A global supply-chain analysis. Journal of Cleaner Production 156:194–202

Related publications

Use of infographics

Unless stated otherwise, the Creative Commons (BY) licence applies to this infographic. For more information on this licence or the use of this infographic, please contact our graphics department (beeldredactie@pbl.nl).