Because of World War II and its consequences (the high rate of population increase and the severing of economic ties with Indonesia), drastic structural changes took place in the Dutch economy, and the further development of industry became important. Industry increased to such an extent that it produced 32% of GDP in 1990. Since then, however, industrial production has declined, accounting for only 26% of GDP in 2001. In 1995 there were 43,000 firms of all sizes engaged in mining, quarrying, manufacturing, and electricity, gas, and water supply. Another 22,400 firms were engaged in transport, storage, and communications. As of 2002, foreign companies in the country accounted for about 25% of industrial production and employment in industry.
Since World War II, the metallurgical industry in particular has made tremendous progress. The Philips Electrical Co. at Eindhoven has become the greatest electrical products firm in Europe as well as one of the world's major exporters of electric bulbs and appliances. In 1996, Philips employed 273,000 people and had revenues of $41 billion. Unilever, the British-Dutch consumer products company, has grown to become one of the world's largest corporations, with 306,000 employees and 1996 sales of $52 billion. More phenomenal has been the success of Royal Dutch/Shell Group, which began as a small concern in 1890 and was combined with the Shell Co. to form the world's number one income producer with 1996 revenues of $128 billion and net income of $8.9 billion. Royal Dutch/Shell owns and operates one of the world's largest oil refineries at Curaçao, near Venezuela, and Rotterdam's suburb of Pernis has the largest oil refinery in Europe. The Netherlands had six oil refineries in 2002, with a capacity of 1,206,000 barrels per day.
Among leading exports is pig iron, produced from imported ore at the Velzen-Ijmuiden plant, situated where the canal from Amsterdam reaches the North Sea. The chemical industry has grown increasingly important, but the once prosperous textile industry in Enschede has declined because of foreign competition and lack of modern management.
Industrial products include crude steel, pig iron, and pharmaceutical products. The Netherlands also produces cigarettes, beer, canned fish, cocoa and cocoa products, sugar, candies, biscuits, and potato flour. The Netherlands produced 239,325 automobiles in 2001, a 10% decrease over 2000. In 2000, it produced 50,602 heavy trucks, a 17% increase over 1999.