The EU, USA and China account for almost half of world trade in goods 

A containership at a loading terminal is seen in the port of Hamburg, Germany

In 2016, the EU-28, the United States and China recorded by far the world’s highest trade values. Together, these countries accounted for 46 % of global exports of goods and 45 % of global imports.

China recorded the world’s highest export values at EUR 1 895 billion followed by the EU and the United States, which recorded values of EUR 1 744 billion and EUR 1 515 billion respectively. Looking at 2016 imports by value, the United States had higher values (EUR 2 032 billion) than the EU (EUR 1 710 billion) and China (EUR 1 435 billion). The United States also recorded the highest trade deficit (EUR -517 billion), followed by India (EUR -87 billion) and Mexico (EUR -12 billion). The largest trade surpluses were recorded by China (EUR 460 billion) and Russia (EUR 93 billion).

The United States has traditionally been a major trading economy but its relative significance is smaller than in 2002. Between 2002 and 2011 the US share in total exports fell from 15.3 % to 12.0 % before climbing to 13.6 % in 2016. The steady growth of China’s trade has dramatically changed its role on the global market. Starting in the 4th position in 2002, it overtook Japan in 2004, the United States in 2009 and the EU in 2014. In 2016 its share of national exports in world exports was 17.0%, which was 1.4 percentage points higher than that of the EU. The national export shares of the other main traders are shown separately in to give some more detail.

In contrast, China’s share in world imports has increased less quickly than its share in world exports, although in 2009 it exceeded 10 % for the first time. It was approaching the US and EU shares in 2012 but since then the gap with the EU remained around 2 percentage points. Both of them saw their imports decrease slightly since 2014 while US imports grew in these same years. The US share of world imports has fallen substantially from 2002 (24.9 %) to 2016 (17.6 %). The same holds true for the EU: although it was the world’s top importer from 2008 to 2011, the EU was overtaken by the United States in 2012. China is the world’s third-largest importer; its share of world imports has largely been on the increase since 2008. The import shares of the other main traders are shown separately in Figure 4b to give some more detail.

Main trading countries

To read the full Eurostat’s Statistics Explained article on EU and main world traders click HERE


Source: eurostat

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