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CPB’s newly devised measuring system reports trade more accurate

Dutch agency solves mystery

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

THE HAGUE - The Dutch Central Planning Bureau (CPB) has developed a new method for measuring the country's export growth more accurately and comparing it with that of other countries. This method suggests that Dutch exports previously have not been reported as accurately as they could be.

In its study, the Bureau surveyed data from 10 countries. In all of them, the volume of imports that were then exported grew faster than the export of goods produced at home. The Netherlands, with its system of ports and the relatively large Schiphol Airport has a huge volume passing through.

Within Europe, the Netherlands has with 50 percent the highest rate of such re-exports. In Germany, re-exports contributed 16 percent to total volume of exported industrial products in 2000, while Belgium came in at 33 percent. Singapore’s re-export volume matches the percentage recorded in the Netherlands.

Re-exports are part of the import and export statistics of more than one country and are therefore often double-counted. As a result, relevant world trade data balloons compared to the actual global production of goods and services. Analyses by the CPB suggests that world trade growth in the 1996-2000 period consistently was over-reported due to double-counting.

Drop adjusted

As well, food and chemical products are dominant in the Dutch basket of domestically-produced exports. The world market for these products is growing more slowly than those for Information and Communications Technology (ICT) products, which in turn have a large share of re-exports. This CPB calls the packaging effect.

According to the Bureau’s customary indicator, the Netherlands' export sector on average lost market share by 2.6 percent a year in the 1996-2000 period. Here, the development of domestically-produced exports was compared with that of the relevant world trade. However, adjusted for the composition of the export portfolio and double-counting in international trade, the Dutch loss of market share in 1996-200 averaged only between 0.4 to 1.2 percent a year.

The International Monetary Fund has an interest in the CPB study. The IMF had for some time been wrestling with the question of why some European countries were losing export share, while their economies continued to register reasonable growth.