According to the first estimate conducted by Statistics Netherlands (CBS) based on currently available data, gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 0.9 percent in Q4 2021 relative to the previous quarter.
The growth rate is lower than in Q2 and Q3 2021, when they stood at 3.8 and 2.1 percent, respectively. This is mainly related to the lockdown in mid-December 2021. Growth in Q4 was largely due to increased investments and the trade balance. Public consumption also made a positive contribution to growth.
Investments grew by 2.6 percent. Although exports of goods and services fell, imports fell more rapidly by 0.8 percent. As a result, the trade balance rose. In addition, public consumption increased by 0.7 percent. However, households spent 0.1 percent less in Q4 than in Q3 2021.
In particular, the sectors business services, manufacturing and government and care made positive contributions to the quarter-on-quarter economic growth. However, the sector trade, transportation and accommodation and food services contributed negatively.
The growth in Q4 2021 relative to Q4 2020 amounted to 6.2 percent. With the release of data on Q4, the first annual growth rate over 2021 has become available as well.
Last year, GDP was up by 4.8 percent year on year. Household consumption and the trade balance were higher in particular. Investments and public consumption also made a positive contribution to growth. Compared to 2019, the growth was 0.8 percent. The 3.8-percent contraction in 2020 has been made up for in the span of one year.
Exports of goods and services in 2021 were 7.0 percent up year on year. More machinery and chemical products were exported in particular. Exports of Dutch-manufactured goods were 6 percent higher, while re-exports (the export of previously imported products) grew by 11.5 percent. After the sharp contraction in 2020, there was also a small growth in the export of services in 2021.
Imports of goods and services grew by 5.4 percent. The growth of exports exceeded that of imports. As a result, the trade balance made a positive contribution to economic growth of almost 2 percentage points.
In 2021, consumers spent 3.5 percent more than in 2020. They mainly spent more on accommodation and food services, housing (including rent), medical services and clothing. Consumers also used more natural gas than in 2020.
The growth in consumption in 2021 did not entirely compensate for the historically large contraction in 2020. Compared to 2019, household consumption was still more than 3 percent lower. In particular, spending on recreation and culture, accommodation and food services and transport and communication was still significantly lower than in 2019.
Public consumption grew by 4.3 percent year on year. In particular, individual consumption (government spending on health, education and social protection) was higher than one year earlier.
In 2021, the volume of investments in fixed assets grew by 3.4 percent relative to 2020. Investments were mainly up in dwellings, machinery, buildings, software and computers. Investments in passenger cars, on the other hand, were lower. Just as household consumption, investments were still below the level of 2019.
The value added (i.e. output minus consumption of energy, materials and services) in the sector trade, transportation and accommodation and food services was 7.6 percent higher in 2021 than in 2020. Accommodation and food services as well as transportation and trade grew in particular, but trade also showed growth.
In 2020, however, the accommodation and food services sector was one of the sectors worst affected by the coronavirus crisis and the recovery in 2021 did not compensate for the loss in 2020. Compared to the pre-COVID year 2019, the value added was more than 30 percent lower in 2021.
The transport sector also added less value last year compared to two years previously. The trade sector did perform better than in 2019. On balance, the value added of the sector trade, transportation and accommodation and food services was slightly lower in 2021 than in 2019.
In 2021, manufacturing output was at its highest level ever. Manufacturing grew by over 7 percent. The machinery, metal and chemical industries contributed to this in particular. The construction sector achieved a growth of over 2 percent.
The value added in the business services sector grew by over 7 percent as well. Travel agencies, amongst others, achieved substantial growth, but are nevertheless still a long way from the pre-COVID level. Temporary employment services also recovered in 2021, but still produced less than in 2019. Compared to 2019, the value added of business services as a whole was virtually the same.
The value added of the care sector was almost 9 percent higher than in 2020. Growth was mainly due to additional spending on COVID-19 testing and vaccinations by municipal health services (GGDs). In 2020, health care production fell because, on balance, fewer health and care services were provided during the coronavirus crisis.
After the sharp contraction in 2020, the sector culture, recreation, sports and other services saw a further contraction of more than 3 percent in 2021. Last year, the sector had to contend with coronavirus restrictions for almost the entire year. ■