Strong growth of Dutch economy in fourth quarter and throughout 2016

by: Nico Klene

The Dutch economy continued to grow strongly in the last quarter of 2016. According to the provisional figures of Statistics Netherlands, gross domestic product (GDP) was 0.5% up on the previous quarter (qoq). This was a little less than in the third quarter, but slightly higher than the eurozone figure. For the whole of 2016, the Dutch economy grew by 2.1%, which was slightly higher than in 2015.

Further strong increase in household consumption and exports

Most categories of spending rose in comparison with the previous quarter. Exports and household consumption performed particularly well. Public sector consumption was up too. Although investment in housing increased yet again, the increase was markedly lower than in previous quarters. The further decline in business investment is noteworthy. This was due to a sharp fall in investment in vehicles.

Imports too continued to increase, albeit by less than exports.

Economic growth forecast for 2017 raised …

GDP rose more than expected at the end of last year. Various sentiment indicators for the Dutch economy had already pointed in this direction as they had clearly risen in the course of the fourth quarter. The high growth rate in the second half of 2016 is having a knock-on effect on the average growth rate for 2017. This is why we announced a month ago that we would probably raise our growth forecast for 2017. Most economic barometers since then have shown a further improvement in January. We have raised our forecast for economic growth in 2017 from 1.75% to 2.4%.

… but risks have not disappeared

However, despite this positive picture, we still see downside risks such as the political uncertainty due to general elections in various eurozone countries, the possible consequences of the Brexit decision and the policy that President Trump may adopt.