European Union’s Top 10 Exports

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The European Union (EU) shipped US$6.445 trillion worth of goods around the globe in 2018. The EU is the world’s most powerful trade partner, responsible for over a third (36.7%) of globally exported goods valued at $17.546 trillion one year earlier in 2017.

The EU’s $6.445 trillion in export sales during 2018 reflects a 7% increase since 2014 and a 12.8% uptick from 2017 to 2018.

Based on estimates from the Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook, the EU’s exported goods plus services represent 43.9% of total EU economic output or Gross Domestic Product. Please note that the overall value of exported goods and services includes a sizable share of re-exports. The analysis below focuses on exported products only.

From a continental perspective, 70.1% of EU exports by value were delivered to European countries compared to 63.4% were sold to fellow EU members. The EU shipped another 13.9% worth of goods to Asia plus 8.8% to North America. Smaller percentages went to Africa (2.7%), Latin America (1.5%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean and Oceania (0.8%) led by Australia.

Given the European Union’s population of 517.1 million people, its total $6.445 trillion in 2018 exports translates to roughly $12,500 in international trade revenue for every resident in the EU economic entity.

The EU’s average unemployment rate was 6.5% at January 2019 down from 6.7% as of October 2018, per Trading Economics.

European Union’s Top 10 Exports

Top 10

The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in EU global shipments during 2018. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from the EU.

  1. Machinery including computers: US$909.4 billion (14.1% of total exports)
  2. Vehicles: $768.8 billion (11.9%)
  3. Electrical machinery, equipment: $610.5 billion (9.5%)
  4. Pharmaceuticals: $404.1 billion (6.3%)
  5. Mineral fuels including oil: $374.9 billion (5.8%)
  6. Plastics, plastic articles: $264.8 billion (4.1%)
  7. Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $236.4 billion (3.7%)
  8. Organic chemicals: $175.6 billion (2.7%)
  9. Iron, steel: $163.6 billion (2.5%)
  10. Aircraft, spacecraft: $139.8 billion (2.2%)

The EU’s top 10 exports accounted for 62.8% of the overall value of its global shipments.

Mineral fuels including oil was the fastest-growing among the top 10 export categories, up by 38.5% from 2017 to 2018. That increase was mainly propelled by improved revenues from refined and crude petroleum oils as well as petroleum gas.

In second place for improving export sales were organic chemicals which appreciated 24.4%, trailed by EU-exported electrical machinery or equipment (up 18.2%) and pharmaceuticals (up 17.4%).

The sole decliner among the top 10 EU export categories was aircraft and spacecraft, thanks to a -1.4% setback.


Overall the EU achieved a $51.3 billion surplus in its global trade for 2018. That dollar amount represents a -36.1% retreat from $80.3 billion in black ink for 2017 and a -50.8% decline since 2014.

The following types of EU 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.

  1. Machinery including computers: US$145.5 billion (Up by 13.7% since 2016)
  2. Vehicles: $115.4 billion (Down by -6.6%)
  3. Pharmaceuticals: $106.7 billion (Up by 19.8%)
  4. Aircraft, spacecraft: $45.5 billion (Up by 0.9%)
  5. Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $49.9 billion (Up by 11%)
  6. Beverages, spirits, vinegar: $29.7 billion (Up by 5.5%)
  7. Perfumes, cosmetics: $24.9 billion (Up by 13.5%)
  8. Articles of iron or steel: $15.4 billion (Down by -1.6%)
  9. Other chemical goods: $16.3 billion (Up by 6.8%)
  10. Paper, paper items: $16.1 billion (Up by 10.3%)

The has highly positive net exports in the international trade of machinery-related products. In turn, these cashflows indicate the UK’s strong competitive advantages under the machinery including computers product category.


Below are exports from the EU that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on EU-exported goods trail the European Union’s spending on imported products.

  1. Mineral fuels including oil: -$365.3 billion (Up by 25.5% from 2016)
  2. Electrical machinery, equipment: -$76.5 billion (Up by 11.7%)
  3. Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: -$33.9 billion (Up by 3.3%)
  4. Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): -$25.7 billion (Up by 5.9%)
  5. Ores, slag, ash: -$22.9 billion (Up by 7.7%)
  6. Fruits, nuts: -$21.4 billion (Up by 9.3%)
  7. Fish: -$18.1 billion (Up by 4.1%)
  8. Toys, games: -$13.6 billion (Up by 0.5%)
  9. Organic chemicals: -$10.4 billion (Down by -22.7%)
  10. Iron, steel: -$10.2 billion (Up by 202.8%)

The EU has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits under the mineral fuels category particular for crude oil and, to a lesser extent, petroleum gases and coal.


EU Export Companies

Twenty-three corporations with headquarters located in the EU rank among the top 100 listed under Forbes Global 2000.

Below are selected examples of top EU companies engaged in exports-related activities.

  • Royal Dutch Shell (oil, gas)
  • Volkswagen Group (automobiles)
  • Total (oil, gas)
  • Daimler (automobiles)
  • BP (oil, gas)
  • BMW Group (automobiles)
  • Anheuser-Busch InBev (beverages)
  • Siemens (industrial/technology conglomerate)
  • Enel (electricity, gas)
  • BASF (diversified chemicals)


Headquarters for the European Union are located in Belgium’s capital city, Brussels.

EU Top 200 Most Valuable Exported Products

At the more granular four-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, cars represent the EU’s most valuable exported product. In second place were medication mixes in dosage followed by refined petroleum oils, automobile parts and accessories, blood fractions including antisera then mobile phones.

The following searchable table displays 200 of the most in-demand goods shipped from European Union members during 2018. Shown beside each product label is its total export value then the percentage increase or decrease since 2017.

RankEU Export Product2018 Value (US$)2017-8
1Cars$420.9 billion+4.9%
2Medication mixes in dosage$244.1 billion+9.5%
3Processed petroleum oils$217.3 billion+22.3%
4Automobile parts/accessories$195.6 billion+7.4%
5Blood fractions (including antisera)$126.6 billion+27.5%
6Phone system devices including smartphones$107.5 billion+42.3%
7Aircraft, spacecraft$88.6 billion-5.3%
8Computers, optical readers$88.4 billion+41.7%
9Turbo-jets$70.9 billion+15.3%
10Electro-medical equipment (e.g. xrays)$56.7 billion+11.1%
11Trucks$53 billion+10.6%
12Integrated circuits/microassemblies$52.2 billion+27.1%
13Aircraft parts$49.8 billion+4.3%
14Heterocyclics, nucleic acids$48.2 billion+50.7%
15Gold (unwrought)$45.2 billion+45%
16Insulated wire/cable$43.8 billion+13.6%
17Taps, valves, similar appliances$41.7 billion+9.5%
18Crude oil$41.4 billion+78.4%
19Lower-voltage switches, fuses$41.2 billion+9.4%
20Miscellaneous machinery$40.5 billion+13%
21Miscellaneous furniture$37.7 billion+10.2%
22Orthopedic appliances$34.1 billion+9.4%
23Centrifuges, filters and purifiers$33.7 billion+10.1%
24Printing machinery$33.6 billion+14.1%
25Liquid pumps and elevators$33.5 billion+11.3%
26Miscellaneous plastic items$33.5 billion+12.3%
27Tractors$33.4 billion+12.2%
28Petroleum gases$33.2 billion+31.1%
29Piston engine parts$32.8 billion+5.4%
30Seats (excluding barber/dentist chairs)$32.6 billion+8.1%
31Air or vacuum pumps$32.1 billion+8.3%
32Electrical/optical circuit boards, panels$32.1 billion+12.2%
33Electrical converters/power units$30.8 billion+13.9%
34Rubber tires (new)$30.6 billion+7.7%
35Transmission shafts, gears, clutches$30.2 billion+12.6%
36Engines (diesel)$29.4 billion-0.6%
37TV receivers/monitors/projectors$28.4 billion+11%
38Footwear (leather)$27 billion+7.6%
39Wine $26.6 billion+8.1%
40Cases, handbags, wallets$26.2 billion+15.3%
41Machinery parts$25.8 billion+11.2%
42Beauty/makeup/skin care preparations$25.7 billion+12.6%
43Miscellaneous iron or steel items$25.4 billion+16.5%
44Cheese, curd$24.8 billion+6%
45Plastic plates, sheets, film, tape, strips$24.6 billion+9.3%
46Miscellaneous iron and steel structures$24.1 billion+11.8%
47Ethylene polymers$23.8 billion+3.7%
48Plastic packing goods, lids, caps$23.6 billion+13.5%
49Polyacetal/ether/carbonates$23.2 billion+17.5%
50 Dishwashing, clean/dry/fill machines $22.7 billion+8%
51Electric motors, generators$22.4 billion+12.9%
52Alcohol (including spirits, liqueurs)$21.6 billion+9.5%
53Bread, biscuits, cakes, pastries$21.6 billion+9.4%
54Piston engines$21.3 billion+13.2%
55Temperature-change machines$20.7 billion+6.5%
56Jewelry$20.7 billion+3.6%
57Physical/chemical analysis tools$20.4 billion+10.6%
58Iron or steel scrap$20.4 billion+16.8%
59Women's clothing (not knit or crochet)$20.3 billion+15.6%
60Chemical industry products/residuals$19.9 billion+14.2%
61Cruise/cargo ships, barges$19.9 billion+53.1%
62Other measuring/testing machines$19.9 billion+10.2%
63Chocolate, other cocoa preparations$19.5 billion+4.2%
64Other food preparations$19.1 billion+7.5%
65Flat-rolled iron or non-alloy steel products (plated/coated)$19.1 billion+10%
66Coated paper$18.9 billion+9.8%
67Swine meat$18.7 billion-4.4%
68Hot-rolled iron or non-alloy steel products$18.7 billion+9.2%
69Electrical energy$18.6 billion+12%
70Miscellaneous animal feed preparations$18.5 billion+7.2%
71Other organic cleaning preparations$18.3 billion+9.8%
72Lifting/loading machinery$18.2 billion+10.5%
73Propylene/olefin polymers$18.1 billion+11.5%
74Diamonds (unmounted/unset)$17.9 billion-1.5%
75Electric water heaters, hair dryers$17.7 billion+10.4%
76Computer parts, accessories$17.5 billion-0.7%
77Packaged insecticides/fungicides/herbicides$17 billion+4.2%
78Refrigerators, freezers$17 billion+11.2%
79Unrecorded sound media$16.8 billion+0.3%
80Scents used for beverage or industrial manufacturing$16.7 billion+9.4%
81Iron and steel screws, bolts, nuts, washers$16.7 billion+12.6%
82Electrical lighting/signaling equpment, defrosters$16.5 billion+8.9%
83Heavy machinery (bulldozers, excavators, road rollers)$16.4 billion+23.9%
84Solar power diodes/semi-conductors$16.3 billion+19.6%
85Trailers$16.2 billion+11.8%
86Ball, roller bearings$16 billion+11.2%
87Regulate/control instruments$15.9 billion+4.2%
88Electric circuit parts, fuses, switches$15.9 billion+10.5%
89Flat-rolled stainless steel items$15.9 billion+10.5%
90Sawn wood$15.9 billion+13.6%
91Aluminum plates, sheets, strips$15.9 billion+13.8%
92Jerseys, pullovers (knit or crochet)$15.7 billion+14.3%
93Coal tar oils (high temperature distillation)$15.4 billion+12.8%
94Lamps, lighting, illuminated signs$15.3 billion+7.8%
95Other diagnostic/lab reagents$15.2 billion+8.7%
96Base metal mountings, fittings$15.1 billion+7.9%
97Machinery for making semi-conductors$14.9 billion+19.8%
98Men's suits, trousers (not knit or crochet)$14.5 billion+7.3%
99Flat-rolled other alloy steel products$14.4 billion+12.3%
100Vulcanized rubber items$14.3 billion+9.5%
101Electric storage batteries$14.2 billion+19.8%
102Perfumes, toilet waters$14.2 billion+10.8%
103T-shirts, vests (knit or crochet)$14.2 billion+13.1%
104Aluminum (unwrought)$14.1 billion+51.2%
105Plastic plates, sheets, film, tape, strips$14 billion+8%
106Plastic tubes, pipes, fittings$14 billion+10.8%
107Flour/meal/starch/malt extract food preparations$13.9 billion+6%
108Footwear (textile)$13.7 billion+17.9%
109Harvest/threshing machinery$13.4 billion+10.9%
110Rubber/plastic article making machines$13.3 billion-4.4%
111Medication mixes not in dosage$13 billion+141.3%
112Paper containers, cellulose wadding$12.7 billion+9.4%
113Air conditioners$12.6 billion+12.4%
114Non-alcoholic drinks (not water/juice/milk)$12.5 billion+19.1%
115X-ray equipment$12.4 billion+12.7%
116Models, puzzles, miscellaneous toys$12.3 billion+5.9%
117Platinum (unwrought)$12.3 billion+19.9%
118Fresh or chilled beef$12.2 billion+9.9%
119Cigars/cigarellos, cigarettes$12.1 billion+5.2%
120Fork-lift trucks$12.1 billion+14.7%
121Electric generating sets, converters$11.9 billion+8.7%
122Poultry meat$11.8 billion+12.4%
123Sutures, special pharmaceutical goods$11.6 billion+28.2%
124Miscellaneous engines, motors$11.3 billion+13.1%
125Liquid/gas checking instruments$11.3 billion+8.9%
126Cellulose fiber paper$11.2 billion+9.7%
127Table games, bowling equipment$11 billion+41.9%
128Biodiesel$11 billion+30.2%
129Refined copper, unwrought alloys$10.9 billion+32.2%
130Wheat$10.8 billion-1.1%
131Other machine parts, accessories$10.7 billion+13.1%
132Interchangeable hand/machine tools$10.6 billion+12.3%
133Radar, radio communication items$10.6 billion+14.8%
134Yachts, other pleasure/sports vessels$10.5 billion+9.4%
135Industrial preparation machinery$10.5 billion+11.9%
136Microphones/headphones/amps$10.4 billion+31.9%
137Miscellaneous iron or steel tubes, pipes$10.3 billion+12%
138Chemical woodpulp (non-dissolving)$10.3 billion+43%
139Uncoated paper for writing/printing$10.2 billion+7.8%
140Amino-resins$10.2 billion+6.7%
141Miscellaneous aluminum items$10.1 billion+9.3%
142TV receiver/transmit/digital cameras$10.1 billion+13.4%
143Electrical machinery$9.8 billion+7.1%
144Spray/dispersing mechanical appliances$9.8 billion+11.2%
145Initiators/accelerators, catalytic preps$9.8 billion+12.3%
146Acyclic hydrocarbons$9.7 billion+20.9%
147Aluminum bars/rods$9.6 billion+14.4%
148Motorcycles$9.6 billion+22.2%
149#N/A$9.6 billion+4%
150Printed books, brochures$9.5 billion+9.4%
151Cyclic hydrocarbons$9.5 billion+0%
152Iron or steel tubes, pipes$9.4 billion+13.1%
153Pneumatic hand tool$9.3 billion+9.8%
154Coffee$9.2 billion+0.9%
155Miscellaneous heterocyclics$9.1 billion+7.1%
156Whole fish (fresh)$8.9 billion+8.3%
157Sort/screen/washing machinery$8.9 billion+13.7%
158Footwear (rubber or plastic)$8.7 billion+9.9%
159Women's clothing (knit or crochet)$8.7 billion+13.8%
160Copper waste, scrap$8.6 billion+5.1%
161Wood carpentry, builders' joinery$8.5 billion+5%
162Uncoated paper$8.5 billion+17.1%
163Malt beer$8.5 billion+6.1%
164Hormones, miscellaneous steroids$8.4 billion+9.6%
165Paint/varnish non-aqueous solution$8.4 billion+13.5%
166Sports equipment$8.4 billion+14.5%
167Miscellaneous live plants$8.3 billion+11.7%
168Polyamides$8.3 billion+13.8%
169Miscellaneous meat (preserved/prepared)$8.2 billion+11.2%
170Print/write/draw inks$8.2 billion+3.4%
171Copper wire$8.1 billion+9.7%
172Self-adhesive plastic in rolls$8 billion+8.7%
173Iron or non-alloy steel angles, shapes, sections$7.8 billion+19.1%
174Hair preparations$7.8 billion+7.7%
175Electric motor parts$7.8 billion+8.3%
176Special purpose vehicles$7.8 billion+13.7%
177Electric ignition/start equipment$7.7 billion+8.7%
178Iron or steel pipe fittings$7.7 billion+13.7%
179Optical fiber cables, sheets, plates$7.7 billion+6.5%
180Vinyl chloride polymers$7.7 billion+3%
181Sanitary towels, baby napkins/liners$7.6 billion+6.9%
182Fruit and vegetable juices$7.6 billion+15.9%
183Not concentrated/unsweetened milk, cream$7.6 billion+3.8%
184TV/radio/radar device parts$7.6 billion+3.2%
185Women's coats, jackets (not knit or crochet)$7.5 billion+16.5%
186Acrylic polymers$7.5 billion+11.8%
187Coated/laminated non-wovens$7.3 billion+8.5%
188Acyclic alcohols$7.2 billion+14.5%
189Uncoated kraft paper$7.2 billion+17.1%
190Styrene polymers$7.2 billion+3.7%
191Plastic builders' items$7.1 billion+14.8%
192Derricks, cranes$7.1 billion+11%
193Butter, other milk-derived fats, oils$7.1 billion+11.9%
194Amino-compounds (oxygen)$6.9 billion+9.2%
195Oscilloscopes, spectrum analyzers$6.9 billion+15.6%
196Miscellaneous fresh/chilled vegetables$6.9 billion+5.3%
197Other coloring matter, luminophores$6.8 billion+19.7%
198Hand-drawn paintings, drawings$6.8 billion+8.5%
199Sulphonamides$6.8 billion+22.1%
200Railway/tram locomotives, rolling stock$6.8 billion+10.9%

These 200 exported goods were worth a subtotal of $4.760 trillion or almost three-quarters (73.9%) by value for all products exported from the EU during 2018.

See also Top EU Export Countries, Top EU Import Countries and United Kingdom’s Top 10 Exports

Research Sources:
The World Factbook, Europe: European Union. Accessed on March 29, 2019

Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on March 29, 2019

Wikipedia, European Union. Accessed on March 29, 2019

Wikipedia, European Union. Accessed on March 29, 2019

Wikipedia, List of Companies of the European Union. Accessed on March 29, 2019

Wikipedia, List of European countries by population. Accessed on March 29, 2019

Wikipedia, Member State of the European Union. Accessed on March 29, 2019

World’s Capital Cities, Capital Facts for Brussels, Belgium. Accessed on March 29, 2019