In the first quarter of this year the Dutch economy grew rather less strongly than in the previous quarters. According to the provisional figures of Statistics Netherlands (CBS), gross domestic product (GDP) was 0.4% up on the previous quarter. This was a little less than in the previous quarter and also rather less than we had expected. The figure was almost the same as the average rate of growth in the eurozone.
Strong growth of investment and exports
The first quarter growth was due primarily to gross investment and secondly to exports. Once again, there was a substantial rise in residential investment, even slightly outpacing the previous quarter. After two fairly poor quarters, business investment too rose sharply (+7% qoq), mainly due to the explosive rise of investments in vehicles.
A noteworthy development was a slight dip in household consumption, following a strong rise in the two previous quarters. In addition, stocks declined and imports rose more than exports. This too contributed to the lower rate of growth in the first quarter. Lower stocks alone was a drag of 0.3 to 0.4% points on GDP growth (according to the provisional, incomplete data).
Economy still on track for 2.5% growth in 2017
The outlook for the Dutch economy remains favourable. Various sentiment indicators continued to improve over the course of the first quarter and in April. They are now at levels which we last saw six to nine years ago. All this points to the fact that the Dutch economy was still growing strongly at the start of the present quarter. We maintain our growth forecast of almost 2.5% for this year.