The Netherlands - Economic sectors

The Dutch economy is dependent on foreign trade. Like most developed nations, during the second half of the 20th century the Dutch economy underwent a transformation in which agriculture and industry declined in importance while services came to dominate the economic activity. Nonetheless, the nation's fertile soil and deposits of natural gas and oil mean that both agriculture and industry remain competitive with similar sectors in other nations.

Agriculture and fishing are highly profitable even though they account only for a small percentage of employment and of the nation's GDP. Since the 1940s, Dutch agriculture has become highly mechanized and technologically sophisticated. Dutch farmers use the latest technology to maximize crop yields and livestock production. Techniques such as scientific soil analysis and increased use of fertilizers and pesticides have been largely responsible for doubling crop yields during the century. Crops and livestock provide both exports and products which fuel the nation's domestic food-processing industries. Despite the small size of the country, the Netherlands is the world's third-largest exporter of agricultural products.

The main industries in the Netherlands are agribusiness , metal and engineering products, electrical machinery and equipment, chemicals, petroleum, construction, and microelectronics. The Dutch have significant oil and natural gas fields in the North Sea. This forms the basis for the nation's large energy industry. With such resources

companies such as Royal Dutch Shell have gained markets around the globe. Most of the kingdom's energy resources are exported to EU countries. Other major industrial employers include the Dutch State Mines and the Royal Netherlands Blast Furnaces and Steelworks (both of which are partially-owned by the government). Construction accounts for about 6 percent of GDP and is partially propelled by government spending on infrastructure projects.

Services dominate the Dutch economy. The main segments of the service sector are transportation, goods distribution, financial services, and tourism. One of the areas of greatest growth, however, is telecommunications, especially personal communications services. Computer services are also experiencing dramatic growth. Small companies which specialize in various types of service have done the best in the nation's economy over the past decade, but there is increasing consolidation in some areas of the service sector as large corporations buy or merge with the more profitable firms.

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