Dutch economy again grows 0.5% in first quarter

by: Nico Klene

The first quarter saw the Dutch economy grow 0.5% relative to the previous quarter. That is the same number as in the last quarter of 2018 and slightly more than the eurozone average.

Investment and consumption still rising, but more slowly

Gross domestic product (GDP) increased in the first quarter by 0.5% qoq – the same as in the final quarter of 2018. Both domestic spending and exports continued to increase. That said, investment and, notably, private consumption grew at a slower pace after a strong final quarter of 2018. We should point out, however, that consumer spending was depressed by lower energy consumption due to the mild winter.

Government consumption grew at the same rate as in the previous quarter. Public expenditure growth remains disappointing in the light of the spending impulse promised in the Coalition Agreement.

Net exports again dampened growth – stock building kept GDP growth on track

Imports and exports both advanced (qoq) in the first quarter. However, just as before, imports outpaced exports. As a result, net exports again dampened GDP growth.

All in all, GDP growth remained stable in the first quarter, but only thanks to stock building. Stocks expanded strongly and (according to the provisional data) accounted for about 0.4% point of the GDP increase. The first-quarter growth figure thus looks somewhat less solid than that of the previous quarter.

GDP growth forecast remains unchanged: +1.4% in 2019

We expect GDP growth to work out somewhat lower in the second quarter than in the first quarter – in line with our expectations for the eurozone economy. Later this year, we see a moderate recovery as global trade starts to pick up. GDP growth for full-year 2019 is estimated at 1.4%.