Industrial sales fall in second quarter, refineries hardest it

Much of the Dutch chemicals industry is located in Rotterdam. Photo:

Dutch industrial firms and manufacturers sold 7.5% fewer goods in the second quarter of this year when compared with the same period in 2022. The key industrial figure had risen quarter on quarter for the past two years.

Domestic sales fell 3.2% but sales abroad were down over 10%, the CBS said. 

The figures are strongly skewed by the impact of refineries and chemical companies, where sales were down 28%. Heavy engineering sales fell 9% and the paper and graphic industry also took a major hit, with sales down almost 12%. 

At the same time, light engineering, the car sector and repair and service sectors all showed strong growth, varying from 18% to 21%, the CBS said. 

Overall, industry expects a slight increase in sales in the third quarter. But this is well down on the third quarter last year, when industry was predicting a 7% increase in turnover. And just 8% of companies expect to take on more staff in the third quarter, compared with one in five a year ago. 

Last week, the government’s macro-economic forecasting agency CPB said the Netherlands was in a slight recession.

Corporate investments rose in the first half of the year but less was invested in building residential property in particular. Imports grew and exports fell – again, mainly affecting the chemicals industry.

 The situation in the jobs market is largely unchanged and the number of vacancies still far outstrips the number of unemployed. The official jobless rate fell slightly in the second quarter to 3.5%.

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