Netherlands: Manufacturing sector shows signs of losing steam
July 3, 2011
The Netherlands one of the most important cargo gateways in Europe has benefited from increased global trade and robust growth in core Europe. However, with exports already above pre-crisis levels, the external sector is unlikely to further boost growth in quarters ahead. In April, exports grew 11.4% in nominal terms over the same month last year, which was below the 12.0% expansion tallied in March and marked the fourth consecutive month of slower growth rates. The sustained deceleration partly reflects the waning of a favourable base effect, which coupled with weaker growth prospects around the world, is likely to prevent exports from accelerating in the near term. Despite the slowdown, export growth is still strong at the current level. However, an important part of exports are the so-called re-exports, which are imports upon which little or no value is added. Therefore, strong export growth does not necessarily imply a strong recovery in domestic economic activity. In fact, recent data suggest that the manufacturing sector is losing steam. In April, industrial production contracted a working-day adjusted 0.8% in April over the same month last year, which represents the slowest pace since November 2009. Moreover, business confidence dropped for the third month in a row from 3.1 points in May to 2.0 points in June, suggesting that investment will decelerate in the months ahead.