March 23, 2023

In February 2023, the mood among Dutch producers was again better than the average mood across the European Union. Germany was the only major trading partner in the EU with higher producer confidence than the Netherlands. The most negative mood was recorded in Belgium. Over the past year, confidence declined most significantly among German producers, while the smallest decline was seen in the Netherlands. This is reported by Statistics Netherlands (CBS) on the basis of CBS and Eurostat figures.
One year previously, in February 2022, producer confidence across the EU still stood at 12.7 on average. The indicator stood at -0.6 in February 2023. The mood among Dutch producers fell from 6.0 to 1.2 over the same period, but is now above the EU average. Although Germany recorded the sharpest decline, it remained slightly above the Dutch indicator. Belgian producers were in a significantly more negative mood in February 2023 than one year previously; it was the lowest confidence among all major European trading partners.

Producers think their stocks are too large

All three component indicators of producer confidence deteriorated in February relative to one year previously. The opinion on current stocks is negative in all countries; there are more producers who find their stocks too large than those who find stocks too small. Especially in Germany, this has turned from positive to negative. In most countries presented here, producers are still positive about the anticipated output, except in Belgium.

Among the various manufacturing industries, the paper industry showed the most substantial mood decline in all countries presented. On the other hand, the basic metal industry and the machinery industry in the Netherlands showed a rise, whereas the mood fell in all other countries. The vehicle body and trailer industry in Germany and particularly in France was in a sharply lower mood.

Insufficient demand cited as main obstacle more often

More EU producers perceive insufficient demand as the main obstacle in their business operations. This is evident from the response to the question about the main obstacle to business operations according to producers which is asked each quarter in the Business Survey. In Q1 2023 this was stated by on average nearly 20 percent of EU producers, up from over 13 percent one year previously. Belgian producers cited this obstacle most frequently at over 40 percent, while German producers cited it least often at just under 14 percent. In the Netherlands, over 15 percent of manufacturers cited insufficient demand as the main obstacle in their business operations.

The percentage of producers who see labour shortages as the main obstacle remained virtually unchanged in the EU over the same period. In the Netherlands and Germany, the proportion of producers experiencing this obstacle increased slightly. At almost 28 percent, the figure for the Netherlands in the first quarter was therefore higher than the EU average of 19 percent. In Spain and Italy, labour shortages are relatively little perceived as the main constraint in business operations.

Opinion on global competitiveness has deteriorated

European producers saw their competitive position in the global market deteriorate in Q1 2023. The balance stood at slightly less than -2 percent in the same quarter one year previously, against -8 percent this year. The Netherlands showed a balanced outcome of optimists and pessimists in terms of global competitiveness. Only in Spain and Italy were producers more positive than in the Netherlands. In France, Germany and especially Belgium, producers were more negative in this respect compared to one year previously.

Source: Statistics Netherlands (CBS)
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