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EU trade in goods balance close to €200 bn surplus in 2019

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Christian Fernsby ▼ | March 26, 2020
In 2019, the trade in goods balance of the European Union of 27 Member States (EU) was in surplus by €197 billion, a significant increase with respect to 2018 (+€152 bn).
European port
European port   Extra-EU exports of goods rose significantly between 2009 and 2012
Looking at the trend over time, after recording a small deficit between 2009 and 2011, the EU trade balance recorded a continuous surplus that peaked at €264 billion in 2016, and then decreased in 2017 and 2018.

Topics: Trad surplus

Looking at the evolution of the flows, extra-EU exports of goods rose significantly between 2009 and 2012, remained relatively stable until 2016 and then increased again to reach €2 132 billion in 2019. Imports followed roughly the same pattern as exports.

They increased between 2009 and 2011, remained stable between 2011 and 2016 and rose again to reach €1 935 bn in 2019. These data are issued by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union.

Germany, main export destination for a majority of Member States

In almost all EU Member States, the main partner for exports of goods in 2019 was another member of the European Union, except for Germany and Ireland (the United States was the main destination of exports) as well as Sweden (Norway) and Lithuania (Russia).

Overall, Germany was the main destination of goods exports for 16 Member States. In some Member States, over a quarter of exports went to one single partner. This partner was Germany for Czechia (32% of exports of goods), Austria (29%), Poland and Hungary (both 28%), and the United States for Ireland (31%).

For extra-EU trade, the three main destinations of EU exports in 2019 were the United States (18% of all extra-EU exports), the United Kingdom (15%) and China (9%).

Intra-EU exports prevail in all Member States apart from Ireland and Cyprus

In 2019, the 27 EU Member States exported a total of €5 193 bn of goods, of which €3 061 bn (or 59%) were destined for another Member State (intra-EU trade).

With more than three-quarters of goods exported to other EU Member States, Slovakia and Luxembourg (both 80% intra-EU in total exports), Czechia (79%) and Hungary (78%) recorded the highest shares of intra-EU exports in 2019.

At the opposite end of the scale, Ireland (37%) and Cyprus (41%) were the only Member States that exported more goods to non-EU countries than within the EU in 2019.

Germany, also main source of imports for majority of EU Member States

As for exports, the main partner for imports of goods in 2019 was another member of the European Union in all Member States except Ireland (the United Kingdom was the main partner for goods imported), Lithuania (Russia) and the Netherlands. Overall, Germany was the main source of goods imports for 16 Member States.

In six Member States, more than 25% of imports of goods came from a single partner country in 2019: Austria (41% of imports of goods originated from Germany), Luxembourg (34% from Belgium), Portugal (30% from Spain), Czechia (29% from Germany), Ireland (28% from the United Kingdom) and Poland (27% from Germany).

For extra-EU trade, the main country of origin of goods imported into the EU in 2019 remained China (19% of all extra-EU imports), followed by the United States (12%) and the United Kingdom (10%).

Intra-EU imports prevail in almost all Member States

In 2019, the 27 EU Member States imported a total of €4 937 bn of goods, of which €3 002 bn (or 61%) came from another EU Member State (intra-EU trade).

More than three-quarters of total imports of goods originated from another EU Member State in Luxembourg (83%), Slovakia and Croatia (both 79%), Austria and Estonia (both 76%). In contrast, Ireland (38%) and the Netherlands (40%) were the only Member States where less than half of the imports came from within the EU. In the latter case, this is largely due to the so-called 'Rotterdam effect'.

Machinery & transport equipment dominated both EU exports and imports

In 2019, machinery and transport equipment continued to play a major role in EU trade in goods with the rest of the world, accounting for 41% of total extra-EU exports and 33% of imports.

Other manufactured goods (23% of extraEU exports and 24% of extra-EU imports) as well as chemicals (19% of extra-EU exports and 12% of extra-EU imports) also played a significant role in EU trade in goods in 2019. Energy made up a minor share of extra-EU exports (5%), but accounted for 19% of all imports.

40% of EU trade is with the United States, China and the United Kingdom

In 2019, the United States (€616 billion, or 15.2% of total extra-EU trade in goods, i.e. the sum of exports and imports), China (€560 bn, or 13.8%) and the United Kingdom (€512 bn, or 12.6%) were the three main goods trading partners of the European Union of 27 Member States (EU), well ahead of Switzerland (€257 bn, or 6.3%), Russia (€232 bn, or 5.7%), Turkey (€138 bn, or 3.4%) and Japan (€124 bn, or 3.0%).

However, the trends observed over time differ for these top trading partners of the EU. After remaining relatively stable around 12% between 2009 and 2014, the share of the United States in EU total trade in goods increased since to reach 15% in 2019.

The share of China has increased from 11% in 2009 to almost 14% in 2019. The share of the United Kingdom decreased from nearly 15% in 2009 to slightly below 13% in 2019. The shares of Switzerland, Turkey and Japan have remained relatively stable over the period, while the share of Russia has fluctuated.

The European Union (EU27) includes Belgium, Bulgaria, Czechia, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Ireland, Greece, Spain, France, Croatia, Italy, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Hungary, Malta, the Netherlands, Austria, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Finland and Sweden.