The European Union (EU) shipped US$6.296 trillion worth of goods around the globe in 2019. The EU is the world’s most powerful trade partner, responsible for roughly a third (33.6%) of globally exported goods valued at $18.74 trillion one year earlier in 2018.
The EU’s $6.296 trillion in export sales during 2019 reflects a 17.1% increase since 2015 but a -2.7% drop from 2018 to 2019.
From a continental perspective, about 70% of EU exports by value were delivered to European countries compared to 62.8% were sold to fellow EU members. The EU shipped another 13.8% worth of goods to Asia plus 9.4% to North America. Smaller percentages went to Latin America (1.5%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean, Oceania (0.8%) led by Australia and New Zealand, and Africa (0.4%).
Given the European Union’s population of 513.1 billion people, its total $6.296 trillion in 2019 exports translates to roughly $12,300 in international trade revenue for every resident in the EU economic entity.
The EU’s average unemployment rate was 6.6% at April 2020, up from 6.5% at January 2020 per Trading Economics.
Please note that this is the last year that we will include the United Kingdom in metrics for the European Union. Instead, we will focus on the remaining 27 EU members for future statistical analyses.
European Union’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in EU global shipments during 2019. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from the EU.
- Machinery including computers: US$894.7 billion (14.2% of total exports)
- Vehicles: $745.2 billion (11.8%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $599.3 billion (9.5%)
- Pharmaceuticals: $425.5 billion (6.8%)
- Mineral fuels including oil: $342.4 billion (5.4%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $247.3 billion (3.9%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $239.5 billion (3.8%)
- Organic chemicals: $164.5 billion (2.6%)
- Iron, steel: $143 billion (2.3%)
- Aircraft, spacecraft: $140.8 billion (2.2%)
The EU’s top 10 exports accounted for 62.6% of the overall value of its global shipments.
Pharmaceuticals represent the fastest-grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 5.5% from 2018 to 2019.
The other two top categories to appreciate year over year were optical, technical and medical apparatus (up 1.2%) and aircraft or spacecraft (up 0.9%).
Leading the decliners were iron and steel (down -12.7%) and mineral fuels including oil (down -9.2%) pulled down by lower international revenues for petroleum oils and gases.
Overall the EU achieved a $60.2 billion surplus in its global trade for 2019. That dollar amount represents a 6.2% increase from $56.7 billion in black ink for 2018 but a -59.7% decline since 2015.
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.
- Machinery including computers: US$144.2 billion (Down by -3.2% since 2016)
- Pharmaceuticals: $120.7 billion (Up by 13.2%)
- Vehicles: $88.7 billion (Down by -20.6%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $49.7 billion (Down by -0.1%)
- Aircraft, spacecraft: $47.3 billion (Up by 7.3%)
- Beverages, spirits, vinegar: $30.6 billion (Up by 1.2%)
- Perfumes, cosmetics: $25.6 billion (Up by 2.7%)
- Other chemical goods: $16.3 billion (Down by -2.1%)
- Articles of iron or steel: $15.6 billion (Up by 4.5%)
- Paper, paper items: $15.1 billion (Down by -5.7%)
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.
- Mineral fuels including oil: -$316.1 billion (Down by -12.3% from 2016)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$77.9 billion (Up by 6.3%)
- Gems, precious metals: -$41.7 billion (Reversing a $4.2 billion surplus)
- Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: -$34.4 billion (Down by -3.9%)
- Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): -$26.3 billion (Down by -2.7%)
- Ores, slag, ash: -$22.1 billion (Down by -4.1%)
- Fruits, nuts: -$20.4 billion (Down by -4.4%)
- Fish: -$17.7 billion (Down by -4.8%)
- Toys, games: -$13.7 billion (Down by -0.3%)
- Footwear: -$10.8 billion (Up by 1.8%)
The EU has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits under the mineral fuels category particular for crude oil and, to a lesser extent, petroleum gases and coal.
EU Export Companies
Ranking among the top 100 listed under Forbes Global 2000 are 23 corporations with headquarters located in the EU.
Below are selected examples of top EU companies engaged in exports-related activities.
- Royal Dutch Shell (oil, gas)
- Volkswagen Group (automobiles)
- Total (oil, gas)
- Daimler (automobiles)
- BP (oil, gas)
- BMW Group (automobiles)
- Anheuser-Busch InBev (beverages)
- Siemens (industrial/technology conglomerate)
- Enel (electricity, gas)
- BASF (diversified chemicals)
Headquarters for the European Union are located in Belgium’s capital city, Brussels.
EU Top 100 Most Valuable Exported Products
At the more granular four-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, cars represent the EU’s most valuable exported product. In second place were medication mixes in dosage followed by refined petroleum oils, automobile parts and accessories, blood fractions including antisera then mobile phones.
The following searchable table displays 100 of the most in-demand goods shipped from European Union members during 2019. Shown beside each product label is its total export value then the percentage increase or decrease since 2018.
|Rank||EU Export Product||2019 Value (US$)||2018-9|
|2||Medication mixes in dosage||$259,315,575,000||+6.2%|
|3||Processed petroleum oils||$199,168,970,000||-8.8%|
|5||Blood fractions (including antisera)||$137,254,313,000||+8.4%|
|6||Phone system devices including smartphones||$104,665,057,000||-3.6%|
|7||Computers, optical readers||$88,790,333,000||-0.3%|
|10||Electro-medical equipment (e.g. xrays)||$59,785,363,000||+4.9%|
|14||Heterocyclics, nucleic acids||$45,553,773,000||-5.2%|
|15||Taps, valves, similar appliances||$41,623,958,000||-0.7%|
|20||Lower-voltage switches, fuses||$39,195,198,000||-5.4%|
|22||Centrifuges, filters and purifiers||$35,442,207,000||+4.3%|
|24||Miscellaneous plastic items||$33,275,098,000||-1.7%|
|25||Liquid pumps and elevators||$32,646,432,000||-2.8%|
|26||Seats (excluding barber/dentist chairs)||$31,871,151,000||-2.6%|
|28||Electrical/optical circuit boards, panels||$31,678,543,000||-1.9%|
|30||Air or vacuum pumps||$30,905,813,000||-4%|
|31||Electrical converters/power units||$30,736,705,000||-1.3%|
|32||Piston engine parts||$30,234,198,000||-8.1%|
|34||Cases, handbags, wallets||$29,271,517,000||+10.5%|
|35||Rubber tires (new)||$29,163,137,000||-5.2%|
|36||Transmission shafts, gears, clutches||$28,710,519,000||-5.5%|
|38||Beauty/makeup/skin care preparations||$26,685,086,000||+2.8%|
|44||Miscellaneous iron or steel items||$24,719,039,000||-3.2%|
|46||Miscellaneous iron and steel structures||$23,489,447,000||-4.2%|
|47||Plastic plates, sheets, film, tape, strips||$23,227,255,000||-5.5%|
|48||Electric motors, generators||$22,472,562,000||-0.7%|
|49||Dishwashing, clean/dry/fill machines||$22,466,727,000||-2%|
|50||Alcohol (including spirits, liqueurs)||$22,424,602,000||+3%|
|51||Plastic packing goods, lids, caps||$22,363,168,000||-5.7%|
|54||Bread, biscuits, cakes, pastries||$21,802,705,000||+0.1%|
|55||Women's clothing (not knit or crochet)||$21,029,929,000||+3%|
|58||Physical/chemical analysis tools||$20,415,530,000||-0.6%|
|60||Chocolate, other cocoa preparations||$19,800,353,000||+0.9%|
|61||Other food preparations||$19,463,397,000||+0.3%|
|62||Other measuring/testing machines||$18,786,811,000||-6%|
|63||Miscellaneous animal feed preparations||$18,663,740,000||-0.1%|
|64||Machinery for making semi-conductors||$18,541,336,000||+1.6%|
|66||Chemical industry products/residuals||$18,427,119,000||-8.2%|
|67||Other organic cleaning preparations||$18,217,729,000||-0.6%|
|69||Electric water heaters, hair dryers||$18,054,714,000||+1.4%|
|70||Flat-rolled iron or non-alloy steel products (plated/coated)||$17,813,250,000||-6.6%|
|71||Iron or steel scrap||$17,429,699,000||-15.1%|
|76||Heavy machinery (bulldozers, excavators, road rollers)||$16,792,954,000||+1.3%|
|77||Electric storage batteries||$16,766,054,000||+17.4%|
|78||Solar power diodes/semi-conductors||$16,730,371,000||+2.4%|
|79||Computer parts, accessories||$16,594,398,000||-4.8%|
|80||Hot-rolled iron or non-alloy steel products||$16,497,561,000||-12.8%|
|82||Jerseys, pullovers (knit or crochet)||$16,294,270,000||+2.1%|
|83||Scents used for beverage or industrial manufacturing||$16,256,144,000||-2.9%|
|85||Electrical lighting/signaling equpment, defrosters||$15,851,254,000||-4.3%|
|86||Iron and steel screws, bolts, nuts, washers||$15,684,884,000||-6.7%|
|87||Other diagnostic/lab reagents||$15,638,076,000||+2.7%|
|88||Electric circuit parts, fuses, switches||$15,562,978,000||-2.8%|
|89||Coal tar oils (high temperature distillation)||$15,215,467,000||-1.8%|
|91||Cruise/cargo ships, barges||$14,955,070,000||-26%|
|92||Ball, roller bearings||$14,907,551,000||-7.1%|
|93||Lamps, lighting, illuminated signs||$14,902,888,000||-3.9%|
|94||Perfumes, toilet waters||$14,820,481,000||+3.2%|
|95||Aluminum plates, sheets, strips||$14,806,020,000||-7%|
|96||Unrecorded sound media||$14,560,174,000||-14.2%|
|97||Men's suits, trousers (not knit or crochet)||$14,492,574,000||-0.03%|
|99||Flat-rolled stainless steel items||$14,407,058,000||-9.5%|
|100||Base metal mountings, fittings||$14,355,962,000||-5.6%|
These 100 exported goods were worth a subtotal of $3.727 trillion or almost three-fifths (59.2%) by value for all products exported from the EU during 2019.
See also Top EU Export Countries, Top EU Import Countries and United Kingdom’s Top 10 Exports
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