by WO_ShippingNews

World's Top Exporters and Importers

shipping container cars

Countries around the world depend on imports and exports by air, sea and road routes in order to transport goods through their borders and into other countries. Healthy trade keeps economies booming.

Pretty much everything we have around us, from pens to furniture if not manufactured from the UK will have been transported in from another country, even some items which are manufactured in the UK may have components and parts imported from other countries. The list of products imported and exported is endless, everything from clothes, cars, food, petroleum, electronic products and more.

We take a look at the world’s largest exporters, their products and the busiest ports and shipping routes in each country.

World’s 10 LARGEST Exporters

China leads the list of the world’s largest exporter. Interestingly, of the top 10 leading exporting countries, 3 are from Asia, 5 from Europe and 2 from North America.

NO. COUNTRY YEARLY EXPORTS VALUE DATE OF INFORMATION
1 CHINA $2.49 trillion 2017
2 UNITED STATES $1.56 trillion 2017
3 GERMANY $1.40 trillion 2017
4 JAPAN $683 billion 2017
5 SOUTH KOREA $577 billion 2017
6 FRANCE $551 billion 2017
7 NETHERLANDS $526 billion 2017
8 ITALY $499 billion 2017
9 UNITED KINGDOM $436 billion 2017
10 CANADA $433 billion 2017

Top 15 Countries by Total Exports (1960-2018)

Cargo Plane loading timelapse

WORLD'S 10 LARGEST IMPORTERS

The United States is the world's largest importer of goods, followed by China and Germany. Overall out of the world's 10 largest importers, 4 countries are in Europe, 4 are in Asia and 2 from North America.

NO. COUNTRY YEARLY IMPORTS VALUE DATE OF INFORMATION
1 UNITED STATES $2.35 trillion 2017
2 CHINA $1.89 trillion 2017
3 GERMANY $1.10 trillion 2017
4 JAPAN $625 billion 2017
5 FRANCE $624 billion 2017
6 UNITED KINGDOM $602 billion 2017
7 SOUTH KOREA $457 billion 2017
8 CANADA $443 billion 2017
9 NETHERLANDS $435 billion 2017
10 INDIA $426 billion 2017

The World’s Top 5 Largest Exporters in Detail

CHINA

With the second largest economy in the World, China is the leader in exports. China exported nearly $2.50 trillion worth of goods in 2017, nearly 1 trillion more than the second placed country on the list, the United States. China’s major exported goods are electronics and other machinery and major imported goods are electronics including integrated circuits and other computer components.

Shipping Port – South East China

Shipping Port – South East China

China’s Most Exported Products:

  • Electrical and other machinery, including computers and telecommunications equipment, apparel
  • Furniture
  • Textiles

Most Imported Products:

  • Electrical and other machinery, including integrated circuits, computer components
  • Oil and mineral fuels
  • Optical and medical equipment

Busiest Ports:

Out of the top 10 busiest container ports in the world, seven are located in China. Shanghai which is the busiest container port in the world. Shenzhen, which is the 3rd busiest. In 4th position is Ningbo-Zhoushan in Northeast China and in 5th position is the Port of Guangzhou.

Fun fact about China - Did you know…

The mortar that was used to bind the stones in the Great Wall of China, was made of sticky rice.

great wall of china

Credit: greenandturquoise.com

UNITED STATES

The United States is the world’s largest economy and the world’s second largest exporter of goods. The top 5 destinations for exports from the United States are: Canada, Mexico, China, Japan and the United Kingdom.

Container ship travelling out of New York City harbour

Container ship travelling out of New York City harbour

Most Exported Products:

  • Capital goods (transistors, aircraft, motor vehicle parts, computers, telecommunications equipment)
  • Organic chemicals
  • Automobiles,
  • Medicines

Most Imported Products:

  • Industrial supplies
  • Automobiles, clothing, medicines, furniture, toys
  • Computers, telecommunications equipment, motor vehicle parts, office machines, electric power machinery

Busiest Ports:

Ports in the United States with the highest volume of goods exported and imported are:

  • Los Angeles, California (top imports: furniture, automobile parts.)
  • Long Beach, California (top imports: crude oil, electronics.)
  • New York and New Jersey (top imports: Petroleum, appliances.)

Fun fact about the USA - Did you know…

Everyday 100 acres of Pizza are served in the United States.

pizza in usa

GERMANY

Germany is the 3rd largest exporter worldwide, in addition to being the largest economy in Europe and the world’s 4th largest economy. The top 5 trading partners with Germany in 2017 were: United States, France, China, Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

Container Ship in Hamburg terminal

Container Ship in Hamburg terminal

Most Exported Products:

  • Motor vehicles
  • Machinery
  • Chemicals

Most Imported Products:

  • Machinery
  • Data processing equipment
  • Vehicles

Busiest Ports:

  • Hamburg (machinery and equipment, chemicals)
  • Bremerhaven (automobiles)

Fun Fact about GERMANY - Did you know…

Berlin, the capital of Germany, is 9 times bigger than Paris and has more bridges than Venice.

berlin skyline

JAPAN

Japan is the 4th largest exporter in the world and the world’s third largest economy. It also has the world’s third largest automobile manufacturing industry and the largest electronics goods industry. The countries to which Japan exported the most goods to in 2017 are: the United States, China, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand.

Most Exported Products:

  • Motor vehicles
  • Iron and Steel products
  • Semiconductors

Most Imported Products:

  • Petroleum
  • Liquid Natural Gas
  • Clothing

Busiest Ports:

  • Nagoya (top exports: finished vehicles, auto parts)
  • Tokyo (top exports: chemicals, machinery)

Fun fact about Japan - Did you know…

Over 90% of all mobile phones sold in Japan are waterproof, as Japanese teenagers use their mobiles even when in the shower.

waterproof phone japan

SOUTH KOREA

South Korea is the 5th largest exporter of goods in the world. Its economy is the 11th largest in the world and the 4th largest in Asia. Major economic sectors include shipbuilding, automobile manufacturing and electronics. South Korea’s top trading partners in terms of exports in 2017 were: China, the United States, Vietnam, Japan and Taiwan.

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam - Korean Air Cargo plane prepare for taking off

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam - Korean Air Cargo plane prepares for take off


Most Exported Products:

  • Semiconductors
  • Petrochemicals
  • Automobile/Auto parts

Most Imported Products:

  • Crude oil/Petroleum products
  • Semiconductors
  • Natural Gas

Busiest Ports:

  • Busan (top exports: integrated circuits, cars)

Fun fact about South Korea - Did you know…

South Korea has the fastest Internet speeds in the world, a record it has held for the past 12 years. 100% of South Koreans’ have Broadband access.

seoul at night

FRANCE

France is the 6th largest exporter and the world’s 7th largest economy. The biggest industries in France are: energy, manufacturing and transport. The top export destinations for products made in France are: Germany, Belgium, Italy, Spain and the United States.

Fort-de-France, Martinique - Freighter ship leaves the container terminal

Fort-de-France, Martinique - Freighter ship leaves the container terminal

Most Exported Products

  • Machinery and Transportation equipment
  • Aircraft
  • Plastics

Most imported products

  • Machinery and equipment
  • Vehicles
  • Crude Oil

Busiest ports

  • Le Havre (top imports: coal, construction materials, crude oil)
  • Marseille - Fos (top imports: crude oil)

Fun Fact about France - Did you know…

Louis XIX is the shortest reigning monarch in history. He was the King of France in 1830 for 20 minutes.

Louis XIX

NETHERLANDS

The Netherlands is the 7th largest exporter in the world and the countries overall economy is the 17th biggest in the world. The leading destinations for Dutch exports are: Germany, Belgium, the United Kingdom, France and Italy.

Most Exported Products

  • Machinery and transport equipment
  • Chemicals
  • Mineral fuels

Most imported products

  • Machinery and transport equipment
  • Chemicals
  • Fuels

Busiest ports

  • Rotterdam (top imports: coal, iron ore)
  • Amsterdam (top imports: cocoa, iron ore, oil products)

Fun Fact about the Netherlands - Did you know…

17% of the present day land mass of the Netherlands consists of land reclaimed from sea or lakes.

amsterdam canals

ITALY

Italy is 8th biggest exporter in the world. It has the 3rd largest economy in the Eurozone in addition to being the 8th largest economy in the world. The top export destination for Italian goods are Germany, Belgium, Italy, Spain and the United States.

Most Exported Products

  • Engineering products
  • Textiles and clothing
  • Production machinery,

Most imported products

  • Engineering products
  • Chemicals
  • Transport equipment
  • Energy products
  • Minerals and nonferrous Metals

Busiest ports

  • Port of Gioia Tauro (top imports: crude oil)
  • Port of Genoa (top imports: steel products)

Fun Fact about Italy - Did you know…

There are more people of Italian ancestry living outside of Italy, than in the country itself, with 32 million people in Brazil, 25 million people in Argentina, 17 million people in the United States having Italian ancestry.

rome colosseum

UNITED KINGDOM

The United Kingdom is the 9th largest exporter in the world and the 6th largest economy worldwide. The United Kingdom’s top trading partners are: the United States, Germany, Netherlands, France and the Republic of Ireland.

Most Exported Products

  • Manufactured goods
  • Fuels
  • Chemicals
  • Food

Most imported products

  • Manufactured goods
  • Machinery
  • Fuels
  • Foodstuffs

Busiest ports

  • Felixstowe (number 1 port for imports in the UK)
  • Southampton (number 1 export port in UK)

Fun fact about the United Kingdom - Did you know…

300 languages are spoken in London, more than any other city in the world.

multicultural flags london

CANADA

Canada is the 10th largest exporter in the world and it is also boasts the has the 10th largest economy in the world. Top destinations for Canadian exports are, United States, China, United Kingdom, Japan and Mexico.

Most Exported Products

  • Motor vehicles and parts
  • Industrial machinery
  • Aircraft
  • Telecommunications equipment
  • Chemicals

Most imported products

  • Machinery and equipment
  • Motor vehicles and parts
  • Crude Oil

Busiest ports

  • Vancouver (top imports: Steel commodities)

Fun Fact about Canada - Did you know…

10% of the world’s Forests are in Canada.

canada forest

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