In the first quarter of 2002 the volume of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was up 0.2% on the first quarter of 2001. The economic growth rate was already reduced to 0.4% in the fourth quarter. The growth rate for the first quarter of 2002 was upwardly adjusted by Statistics Netherlands after the first estimate in May of 0.0%.
The Quarterly Accounts of Statistics Netherlands also show that exports are lower than a year ago. Furthermore, household consumption is only increasing at a modest rate. Government consumption has the highest growth rate relatively speaking. The price increase of GDP fell to the 3.0% level.
No recession, but only just
The quarter-on-quarter growth rate in the first quarter, adjusted for calendar and seasonal effects, was 0.1%. This makes it the third quarter in a row where the quarter- on- quarter growth rate is close to zero. So the Netherlands is close to but not in an economic recession. The growth rates for the previous three quarters were the lowest since 1993.
The upward adjustment of the economic growth rate from 0.0 to 0.2% came as the result of more and better information. On the basis of this the production in agriculture and government were upwardly adjusted.
Exports slowing down
The exports of goods and services in the first quarter of 2002 saw a decrease in volume of 3.1%. Exports dropped for the first time after eight years of increases in the fourth quarter of last year.
Dutch exporters are still suffering
the consequences of the fast, worldwide deterioration of the economic climate. The volume change of the imports of goods and services is also negative again (-4.4%).
The drops in exports and imports are virtually all caused by the substantial drop in re-exports during the first quarter. Re-exports are imported products that leave the Netherlands without being processed (such as computers). In the first quarter the exports of the goods produced in the Netherlands remained stable.
Investments down slightly
Investments in the form of fixed capital formation were down 0.9% on the first quarter of one year ago. The slowdown is mainly observed in the investments in computers, trucks and aeroplanes. More was invested in machinery and installations. This increase, however, is totally due to the completion of some major installations requiring a long construction period. Investments in dwellings and commercial buildings increased quite modestly. The increase in investments in infrastructure, usually government financed was much higher.
Government consumption growing fastest
The volume increase in government consumption was 3.2% in the first
quarter. This is almost equivalent to the growth rate in 2001. On the expenditure side of the economy, government consumption is the fastest growing category. Expenditure on health care, on education and on public administration contributed. The volume increase in household consumption during the first quarter of 2002 was only 1.2%, a continuation of the modest growth rate in 2001.
Largest production drop in the manufacturing industry
Dutch industrial production fell by 2.5% in the first quarter. Demand for goods was partly covered by previously created stocks. The largest drop in production occurred in the metal and electrical engineering industries. The chemical industry on the other hand was recovering. The production increase in construction of 1.6% was caused by greater investments in infrastructure.
In commercial services there was virtually no growth left. Production in trade, hotels, restaurants and transport fell for the second quarter in a row. There was hardly any growth in financial and business services. The growth rate in the non-commercial services, such as care and government, was well above the average of the Dutch economy with 3.0%.
Price increase GDP reduced
The price increase of the GDP in the first quarter of 2002 was 3.0%. This is substantially less than in 2001. During this quarter the upward push of the VAT and energy tax rise per 1 January 2001 was cancelled. The