International trade is one of the most important drivers of economic growth. Most countries export a significant share of the goods and services they produce to other countries. These exports are extremely important, because they have a direct impact on economic growth, employment, and the standard of living within the economy. That’s why we will look into who the world’s biggest exporters are. Fortunately, the World Bank provides a comprehensive list of countries by export of goods and services. So without further ado, let’s take a look at the world’s top 10 economies by exports.
The world’s biggest exporter is China with exports of USD 2,417,849 million (i.e. USD 2.4 trillion) in 2017. With more than 1.3 billion people, China is also the world’s largest country by population. Its main exports include electrical and other machinery, computers, telecommunications equipment, apparel, furniture and textiles. Most of these products are exported to the US (19%), Hong Kong (12.4%), Japan (6%), and South Korea (4.5%).
2. United States
The second biggest exporter on the list is the United States with exports worth USD 2,215,000 million (i.e. USD 2.2 trillion) in 2017. The US is said to have the most technologically powerful economy in the world. Accordingly, its primary exports include organic chemicals, motor vehicle parts, computers, aircraft, automobiles, medicines, and a large number of agricultural products. The country’s most important partners by share of exports are Canada (18.3%), Mexico (15.7%), China (8.4%), and Japan (4.4%).
The third country on the list is Germany with USD 1,737,000 million (i.e. USD 1.7 trillion) worth of exports in 2017. Germany is also the most powerful economy in the euro zone. It is a leading exporter of machinery, motor vehicles, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and household equipment. Most of these products are shipped to the US (8.8%), France (8.2%), China (6.8%), Netherlands (6.7%), UK (6.6%), Italy (5.1%), Australia (4.9%), Poland (4.7%), and Switzerland (4.2%).
4. United Kingdom
Number 4 on the list is the United Kingdom (UK) with exports of USD 800,593 million (i.e. USD 800.6 billion). It is also the 2nd largest economy in Europe. The UK’s primary exports include manufactured goods, fuels, chemicals, food, beverages, and tobacco. Meanwhile, the country’s preferred trading partners by share of export are the US (13.2%), Germany (10.5%), France (7.4%), Netherlands (6.2%), Ireland (5.6%), China (4.6%), and Switzerland (4.5%).
The next country on the list is Japan. With exports of USD 797,871 million (i.e. USD 797 billion) it is the world’s fifth biggest exporter. Japan’s main exports include motor vehicles, iron and steel products, semiconductors, auto parts, power generating machinery, and plastic materials. Its most important partners by share of exports are the US (19.4%), China (19%), South Korea (7.6%), Hong Kong (5.1%), and Thailand (4.2%).
Number 6 on the list of the world’s biggest exporters is France, with exports of USD 797,524 million (i.e. USD 797 billion) in 2017. The country’s main exports include machinery and transportation equipment, aircraft, plastics, chemicals, beverages, pharmaceutical products, as well as iron and steel. Most of these products are exported to Germany (14.8%), Spain (7.7%), Italy (7.5%), the US (7.2%), Belgium (7%), and the UK (6.7%).
Next up is the Netherlands with exports worth USD 714,364 million (i.e. USD 714 billion) in 2017. The Netherlands is also the world’s second largest agricultural exporter. Accordingly, its main export goods include food and livestock, but also manufactured goods, machinery and transport equipment, as well as chemicals. The country’s primary trade partners by share of exports are Germany (24.2%), Belgium (10.7%), the UK (8.8%), France (8.8%), and Italy (4.2%).
8. South Korea
The next country on the list is South Korea. With exports of USD 659,615 million (i.e. USD 659 billion) in 2017 it is the world’s 8th biggest exporter. Its primary export goods include semiconductors, petrochemicals, auto parts, ships, wireless communication equipment, electronics, steel, plastics, and computers. Meanwhile its preferred trade partners by share of exports are China (25.1%), the US (12.2%), Vietnam (8.2%), Hong Kong (6.9%), and Japan (4.7%).
9. Hong Kong
Number 9 on the list is Hong Kong with exports worth USD 641,926 million (i.e. 641 billion). Despite its small size, the autonomous territory plays a critical role in international trade. Its exports (and re-exports) make up about 176% of Hong Kong’s GDP. The region’s primary exports include electrical machinery and appliances, textiles, apparel, watches, toys, and jewelry. Hong Kong serves as an entrepot to the Chinese mainland. Thus, its most important trade partners by share of exports are China (54.1%) and the US (7.7%).
Last but not least, the world’s 10th biggest exporter is Italy with exports of USD 605,524 million (i.e. 605 billion). The country mainly exports engineering products, textiles and clothing, production machinery, motor vehicles, transport equipment, chemicals, foodstuffs, beverages, minerals, and tobacco. Most of these goods are exported to Germany (12.5%), France (10.3%), the US (9%), Spain (5.2%), the UK (5.2%), and Switzerland (4.6%).
In a Nutshell
Exports have a direct impact on economic growth, employment, and the standard of living within the economy. While virtually all countries engage in international trade, some are more active than others. Thus, the world’s top 10 economies by exports (1 to 10) are China, the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, Japan, France, the Netherlands, South Korea, Hong Kong, and Italy.