In our globalized economy international trade is one of the most critical drivers of economic growth. While virtually all countries engage in international trade, some of them are more active than others. We have already created a list of the world’s top 10 countries by exports a while ago. But for every country that exports a good or service there has to be another country to import it. Therefore, we will now look at the world’s top 10 countries by imports. We’ll use the World Bank’s list of countries by import of goods and services to do that. So without further ado, here are the world’s top 10 economies by imports.
1. United States
The United States is the world’s biggest importer with imports worth USD 2,735,805 million (i.e. USD 2.7 trillion) in 2016. The US economy is very powerful and is said to be at the forefront in technological advances. Accordingly, its primary imports are computers, telecommunications equipment, motor vehicle parts, electric power machinery. In addition to that, the US also imports large numbers of agricultural products, consumer goods and industrial supplies. The country’s most important partners by share of imports are China (21.6%), Mexico (13.4%), Canada (12.8%), Japan (5.8%), and Germany (5%).
The second country on the list of the world’s top importers is China with imports of USD 2,208,427 million (i.e. USD 2.2 trillion) in 2017. It is also the world’s largest country by population with more than 1.3 billion people. China’s main imports include electrical and other machinery, computer components, oil and mineral fuels, medical equipment, motor vehicles, and soy beans. The majority of these products are imported from South Korea (9.7%), Japan (9.1.%), the US (8.5%), Germany (5.3%), and Australia (5.1%).
Number three on the list is Germany with imports worth USD 1,458,540 million (i.e. USD 1,5 trillion) in 2017. Germany is the largest economy in Europe and has a remarkably strong industry sector. As a consequence of that, the country’s primary imports include machinery, vehicles, chemicals, oil and gas, metals, electric equipment, and data processing equipment. Most of these products are imported from the Netherlands (13.8%), China (7%), France (6.6%), Belgium (5.9%), Italy (5.4%), Poland (5.4%), Czech Republic (4.8%), the US (4.5%), Austria (4.3%) and Switzerland (4.2%).
4. United Kingdom
The next country on the list is the United Kingdom (UK) with imports of USD 837,427 million (i.e. USD 837.4 billion). As Europe’s second largest economy, the UK’s primary imports include manufactured goods, machinery, fuels, and foodstuffs. Meanwhile its most important partners by share of imports are Germany (13.7%), the US (9.5%), China (9.3%), the Netherlands (8%), France (5.4%), and Belgium (5%).
Number five on the list of the world’s biggest importers is France with imports worth USD 825,991 million (i.e. USD 826 billion) in 2017. The country’s main imports include machinery and equipment, vehicles, crude oil, aircraft, plstics, and chemicals. Most of these products are imported from Germany (18.5%), Belgium (10.2%), the Netherlands (8,3%), Italy (7.9%), Spain (7.1%) the UK (5.2%), the US (5.2%), and China (5.1%).
The world’s 6th biggest importer is Japan. In 2017, the country has imported goods and services worth USD 749,688 million (i.e. USD 749.7 billion). Japan’s primary imports include petroleum, liquid natural gas, clothing, semiconductors, coal, as well as audio and visual apparatus. Most of these products are shipped from China (24.5%), the US (11%), Australia (5.8%), South Korea (4.2%), and Saudi Arabia (4.1%).
7. Hong Kong
Next up is Hong Kong with imports worth USD 638,819 million (i.e. 639 billion). Despite its small size, the autonomous territory plays a critical role in international trade. One of the factors that contribute to its international relevance is the fact that Hong Kong has no tariffs on imported goods. Because the region’s resources are limited, food and other basic goods must be imported. As a consequence, Hong Kong’s primary imports include raw materials and semi-manufactures, consumer goods, capital goods, foodstuffs, and fuel. Its most important trade partners by share of imports are China (44.6%), Singapore (6.4%), South Korea (5.5%), and the US (5.2%).
Number eight on the list is the Netherlands with imports of USD 617,855 million (i.e. USD 618 billion) in 2017. The country plays an important role as a European transportation hub. Accordingly, its main import goods include machinery and transport equipment, chemicals, fuels, but also foodstuffs as well as clothing. The country’s preferred trade partners by share of imports are China (16.4%), Germany (15.3%), Belgium (8.5%), the US (6.9%), the UK (5.1%) and Russia (4.3%).
9. South Korea
With imports worth USD 576,913 million (i.e. USD 568 billion) in 2017, South Korea is the world’s 9th biggest importer. Its primary imports include crude oil, semiconductors, natural gas, coal, steel, computers, automobiles, fine chemicals, and textiles. Most of these products are imported from China (20.5%), Japan (11.5%), the US (10.5%), Germany (4.2%), and Saudi Arabia (4.1%).
Last but not least, the world’s 10th biggest importer is India with exports of USD 565,594 million (i.e. 566 billion). The country mainly imports crude oil, precious stones, machinery, chemicals, fertilizer, plastics, as well as iron and steel. India’s preferred trade partners are China (16.3%), the US (5.5%), the UAE (5.2%), Saudi Arabia (4.8%), and Switzerland (4.7%).
In a Nutshell
Imports have a significant impact on economic power, employment, and the standard of living within an economy. While virtually all countries engage in international trade, some are more active than others. More specifically, the world’s top 10 economies by imports (1 to 10) are China, the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Japan, Hong Kong, the Netherlands, South Korea, and Italy.