THE Netherlands continues to buy more North-East goods than anywhere else in the world.

The country remained the largest single market for regional products between January and March.

The figures, from HM Revenues and Customs, show £3.1bn worth of goods were exported from the region in the three months, an increase of £141m compared to the same period last year.

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The results mean the North-East’s 12-month export value to the end of March for the Netherlands stood at £1.62bn, ahead of the US’ £928m, France’s £886m and Spain at £794m.

A report said Canada and Pakistan were also becoming increasingly lucrative markets, with exports to Canada 32 per higher than last year at £224m and 21 per cent higher at £6.2m for Pakistan.

It added the fastest growing markets for the North-East for the year ending in March were Hungary, which had £91m exports, Belgium, with £498m exports, and Morocco, which recorded £51m exports.

The region also remained heavily reliant on its steelmaking heritage and car making reputation, with road vehicles and iron and steel both prominent in the North-East’s top export sectors in the last 12 months.

David Coppock, UK Trade and Investment regional director, said: “The statistics show the North-East continues to overcome economic hurdles and rise to the challenge to grow.

“Trade in the Commonwealth is estimated at £300bn a year and the Commonwealth Games will provide further opportunities to boost this trade.”