Illegal drugs, prostitution generate €4.5 billion for NL economy

May 25, 2024  -The drugs trade, illegal prostitution and tobacco smuggling generated some €17 billion in the Netherlands in 2021, but most of the proceeds ended up abroad, according to new research by national statistics agency CBS.

In total, illegal activities generated €4.5 billion for the Dutch economy in 2021, the CBS said.

Cocaine was the biggest earner, generating €10.7 billion in sales, but 90% of the proceeds went abroad. “Much of the international drugs trading which takes place in the Netherlands is under the leadership of people who do not live here,” the CBS said.

The CBS estimates that the synthetics drug industry generates some €1 billion for the Dutch economy, cannabis €1.4 billion, prostitution €700 million and tobacco smuggling €100 million.

In total, such criminal activities contribute 0.5 percentage point of Dutch GDP, the CBS said. This is slightly down on 2015, when the last estimates were made.

The estimates are based on a wide variety of sources, such as drugs seizures at Dutch and Belgian ports, waste water analysis (to assess drug consumption) and police figures.

This allows the researchers to put total cocaine consumption in the Netherlands at some 12 tonnes in 2021, with a street value of €618 million.

Income from the production and trafficking of drugs, prostitution and illicit trade in tobacco is part of the national accounts, but other illegal activities, such as  handling stolen goods, illegal copying of software and illegal gambling are no longer included.

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