Germany’s Top 10 Exports

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In 2014, exports from Germany amounted to US$1.511 trillion, up 18.9% since 2010. Germany’s top 10 exports accounted for 68.1% of the overall value of its global shipments.

Based on statistics from the International Monetary Fund’s World Economic Outlook Database, Germany’s total Gross Domestic Product amounted to $3.722 trillion in 2014.

Therefore, exports accounted for about 40.6% of total German economic output.

Given Germany’s population of 80.9 million people, its total $1.511 trillion in 2014 exports translates to roughly $18,690 for every resident in that country.

Germany’s unemployment rate was 5% in 2014.

Germany’s Top 10 Exports

Top 10

The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in German global shipments during 2014. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Germany.

  1. Vehicles: US$259.4 billion (17.2% of total exports)
  2. Machines, engines, pumps: $258.5 billion (17.1%)
  3. Electronic equipment: $147.9 billion (9.8%)
  4. Pharmaceuticals: $80.1 billion (5.3%)
  5. Medical, technical equipment: $69.5 billion (4.6%)
  6. Plastics: $63.3 billion (4.2%)
  7. Aircraft, spacecraft: $44.1 billion (2.9%)
  8. Oil: $42.7 billion (2.8%)
  9. Iron or steel products: $33.5 billion (2.2%)
  10. Organic chemicals: $30.4 billion (2%)

Refined oil and petroleum gases were catalysts for the fastest-growing among the top 10 export categories, namely oil which was up in value by 60.5% for the 5-year period starting in 2010.

In second place for improving export sales was aircraft and spacecraft’s 43.7% improvement, which was led by sales of large aircraft weighing over 15,000 kilograms and aircraft parts.

German vehicles posted the third-fastest gain in value at 27.7%.

The only slowest-growing category among the top 10 German exports was electronic equipment which appreciated 10.4%.


The following types of German 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 is 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. Vehicles: US$154.3 billion (Up by 24.6% since 2010)
  2. Machines, engines, pumps: $107.9 billion (Up by 21.7%)
  3. Medical, technical equipment: $30.6 billion (Up by 18.4%)
  4. Pharmaceuticals: $30.4 billion (Up by 55.5%)
  5. Plastics: $18.5 billion (Up by 8.5%)
  6. Aircraft, spacecraft: $15.4 billion (Up by 246.9%)
  7. Electronic equipment: $12.9 billion (Up by 73.8%)
  8. Other chemical goods: $10.1 billion (Up by 34.9%)
  9. Iron or steel products: $9.7 billion (Up by 3.7%)
  10. Paper: $6.9 billion (Down by -20.8%)

Germany has highly positive net exports in the international trade of all types of automobiles with strongest surpluses in selling medium to large-size automobiles. In turn, these cashflows indicate Germany’s strong competitive advantages under the vehicles product category.


Below are exports from Germany that are negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Germany’s goods trail German importer spending on foreign products.

  1. Oil: -US$116.7 billion (Up by 18% since 2010)
  2. Ores, slag, ash: -$9.7 billion (Up by 0.2%)
  3. Knit or crochet clothing: -$9.6 billion (Up by 18.1%)
  4. Clothing (not knit or crochet): -$8.8 billion (Up by 15.4%)
  5. Fruits, nuts: -$8.2 billion (Up by 24.2%)
  6. Vegetables: -$5.4 billion (Up by 0.8%)
  7. Footwear: -$5.3 billion (Up by 33.8%)
  8. Oil seed: -$4.7 billion (Up by 69.1%)
  9. Organic chemicals: -$4.1 billion (Up by 34.8%)
  10. Furniture, lighting, signs: -$3.1 billion (Up by 134.7%)

Germany has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits for crude oil and, to lesser degrees, refined oil and petroleum gases.

These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate Germany’s competitive disadvantages in the international energy market, but also represent key opportunities for Germany to improve its position in the global economy through focused innovations such as developing alternative energy sources.


German Export Companies

Wikipedia lists many of the larger international trade players from Germany:

  • Volkswagen Group (cars, trucks)
  • Siemens (conglomerate, engineering)
  • Bayer (diversified chemicals)
  • Daimler AG (cars, trucks)
  • BASF (diversified chemicals)
  • BMW Group (cars, trucks)
  • Continental (automotive parts)
  • Henkel (household items, personal care)
  • Merck (pharmaceuticals)
  • Porsche (cars, trucks)
  • Fresenius (medical equipment, supplies)
  • Adidas (sportswear, shoes, accessories)

Germany’s capital city is Berlin.

Please note that the results listed above are at the 2-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level.

See also Germany Major Product Supply Advantages, Germany’s Top Import Partners, Fastest-Growing German Export Products and Highest Value German Export Products

Research Sources:
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on October 22, 2015

The World Factbook, Country Profiles, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on October 22, 2015

Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on October 22, 2015

Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on October 22, 2015

Wikipedia, List of Companies of Germany. Accessed on October 22, 2015