South of fellow Scandinavian nations Sweden and Norway while sharing its own southern border with Germany, the Kingdom of Denmark shipped US$109.9 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2019. That dollar amount reflects a 16.1% increase since 2015 and a 1.8% uptick from 2018 to 2019.
Based on the average exchange rate for 2019, the Danish krone appreciated by 0.9% against the US dollar since 2015 but declined by -5.6% from 2019 to 2019. Denmark’s weaker local currency since 2019 makes its exports paid for in stronger US dollars relatively less expensive for international buyers during 2019.
The latest available country-specific data shows that over two-thirds (69.6%) of products exported from Denmark were bought by importers in: Germany (15.7% of the global total), Sweden (11.5%), Norway (6.9%), United Kingdom (6.5%), Netherlands (5.7%), United States (5.6%), China (4.1%), Poland (3.6%), France (3.5%), Italy (2.5%), Finland (2.1%) and Spain (2%).
From a continental perspective, approaching two-thirds of Denmark’s exports by value were delivered to fellow European countries while 13.2% were sold to importers in Asia. Denmark shipped another 6.5% worth of goods to North America. Smaller percentages went to Africa (1.3%), Latin America (1.2%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean then Oceania led by Australia (1.2%).
Given Denmark’s population of 5.8 million people, its total $109.9 billion in 2019 exports translates to roughly $18,900 for every resident in the northern European country.
Denmark’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Danish global shipments during 2019. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Denmark.
- Pharmaceuticals: US$17.5 billion (16% of total exports)
- Machinery including computers: $15.4 billion (14%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $9.7 billion (8.9%)
- Mineral fuels including oil: $4.8 billion (4.4%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $4 billion (3.7%)
- Meat: $3.8 billion (3.5%)
- Vehicles: $3.1 billion (2.8%)
- Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefab buildings: $3.1 billion (2.8%)
- Fish: $2.9 billion (2.6%)
- Dairy, eggs, honey: $2.7 billion (2.5%)
Denmark’s top 10 exports accounted for 61.1% of the overall value of its global shipments.
Pharmaceuticals represent the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 21.5% from 2018 to 2019. In second place for improving export sales was electrical machinery and equipment via a 11.1% gain. Denmark’s shipments of machinery including computers posted the third-fastest gain in value up by 5.3%.
The leading decliner among Denmark’s top 10 export categories were mineral fuels including oil thanks to a -11.3% drop year over year, weighted down by lower international purchases of Danish refined and crude petroleum oils.
At the more detailed four-digit Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) code level, Denmark’s most valuable exported products are medication mixes in dosage (14% of total), electric generating sets or converters (2.8%), swine meat (2.5%), processed petroleum oils (2.4%), miscellaneous engines and motors (1.7%), blood fractions including antisera (1.6%), cheese and curd (1.5%), miscellaneous furniture (1.4%), taps, valves and similar appliances (1.2%) and live swine (also 1.2%).
Overall Denmark earned a $12.9 billion trade surplus in 2019, up by 103% from the $6.3 billion in black ink one year earlier.
The following types of Danish product shipments represent positive net exports or a trade balance surplus. Investopedia defines net exports as the value of a country’s total exports minus the value of its total imports.
In a nutshell, net exports represent the amount by which foreign spending on a home country’s goods or services exceeds or lags the home country’s spending on foreign goods or services.
- Pharmaceuticals: US$13.1 billion (Up by 31.6% since 2018)
- Machinery including computers: $3.3 billion (Up by 22.8%)
- Meat: $2.7 billion (Up by 8.6%)
- Dairy, eggs, honey: $1.9 billion (Down by -8.2%)
- Live animals: $1.5 billion (Up by 20.4%)
- Modified starches, glues, enzymes: $1.4 billion (Up by 0.03%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $1.2 billion (Down by -17.8%)
- Organic chemicals: $1.1 billion (Up by 22.1%)
- Cereal/milk preparations: $723.2 million (Up by 1%)
- Fish: $637 million (Down by -18.9%)
Denmark has highly positive net exports in the international trade of drugs and medicines. In turn, these cashflows indicate Denmark’s strong competitive advantages under the pharmaceuticals product category.
Below are exports from Denmark that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Denmark’s goods trail Danish importer spending on foreign products.
- Vehicles: -US$5.3 billion (Down by -0.7% since 2018)
- Mineral fuels including oil: -$1.8 billion (Up by 25.3%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$1.3 billion (Down by -13.8%)
- Wood: -$1.2 billion (Down by -16.1%)
- Ships, boats: -$934 million (Down by -64.7%)
- Fruits, nuts: -$646.3 million (Down by -11.7%)
- Iron, steel: -$631.4 million (Down by -7.2%)
- Paper, paper items: -$611.6 million (Down by -12.6%)
- Rubber, rubber articles: -$457 million (Down by -3.9%)
- Food industry waste, animal fodder: -$452.4 million (Down by -1.9%)
Denmark has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits under the vehicles category notably for cars, trucks, trailers, tractors and even bicycles.
These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate Denmark’s competitive disadvantages in the international vehicles market, but also represent key opportunities for Denmark to improve its position in the global economy through focused innovations on alternative transportation means.
Danish Export Companies
Fourteen Danish corporations rank among Forbes Global 2000 for 2015. Below is a sample of the major Danish companies that Forbes included.
- A.P. Moller-Maersk Group (transportation, energy)
- Carlsberg (beverages)
- Coloplast (medical equipment, supplies)
- DSV (transportation, logistics)
- Novo Nordisk (pharmaceuticals)
- Novozymes (biotechs)
- TDC (telecommunications services)
- Vestas Wind Systems (electrical equipment)
Wikipedia also lists exporters from Denmark. Selected examples are shown below:
- Arla Foods (dairy products)
- House of Amber (jewelry)
- Kopenhagen Fur (fur clothing, accessories)
- Lego Group (toys)
- Pharma Nord (pharmaceuticals)
- Royal Copenhagen (porcelain)
- Tuborg (brewery)
In macroeconomic terms, Denmark’s total exported goods represent 35.1% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2019 ($312.8 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 35.1% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2019 compares to 35.7% one year earlier. This seems to indicate a slightly decreasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Denmark’s total economic performance albeit based on a short timeframe.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Denmark’s average unemployment rate was 4.958% for 2019 same as 2018, according to the International Monetary Fund.
Denmark’s capital city is Copenhagen.
See also Denmark’s Top 10 Imports and Denmark’s Top 15 Trading Partners
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Country Profiles. Accessed on March 16, 2020
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on March 16, 2020
International Monetary Fund, Exchange Rates selected indicators (National Currency per U.S. dollar, period average). Accessed on March 16, 2020
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on March 16, 2020
Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on March 16, 2020
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on March 16, 2020
Wikipedia, Denmark. Accessed on March 16, 2020
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on March 16, 2020
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Denmark. Accessed on March 16, 2020
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on March 16, 2020