Germany’s Top Trading Partners

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The world’s third-largest exporter, Germany shipped US$1.445 trillion worth of products around the globe in 2017. That dollar figure represents roughly 9.1% of overall global exports estimated at $15.952 trillion one year earlier in 2016.

About two-thirds (65.9%) of German exports by value were delivered to other European countries while 18.3% were sold to Asian importers. Germany shipped another 10.5% worth of goods to North America. Smaller percentages went to customers in Africa (2%) and Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean (1.6%).

Germany’s Top Trading Partners

Top 15

Below is a list showcasing 15 of Germany’s top trading partners. That is, countries that imported the most German shipments by dollar value during 2017. Also shown is each import country’s percentage of total German exports.

  1. United States: US$125.9 billion (8.7% of total German exports)
  2. France: $118.6 billion (8.2%)
  3. China: $97.6 billion (6.8%)
  4. United Kingdom: $94.7 billion (6.6%)
  5. Netherlands: $91.4 billion (6.3%)
  6. Italy: $73.9 billion (5.1%)
  7. Austria: $70.3 billion (4.9%)
  8. Poland: $67.3 billion (4.7%)
  9. Switzerland: $61.4 billion (4.3%)
  10. Belgium: $49.8 billion (3.4%)
  11. Spain: $48.6 billion (3.4%)
  12. Czech Republic: $46.7 billion (3.2%)
  13. Sweden: $30.1 billion (2.1%)
  14. Russia: $29.2 billion (2%)
  15. Hungary: $28.1 billion (1.9%)

Over seven-tenths (71.5%) of German exports in 2017 were delivered to the above 15 trade partners.

Via its 24% gain from 2016 to 2017, Russia posted the fastest growth among the top importers from Germany.

Second place for Poland was shared with another trade partner China (both up 14.3%). Other increases were 11% for Switzerland trailed by 10.7% for Hungary.

The United Kingdom posted the smallest growth among Germany’s top importers via a 0.7% gain year over year.

Deficits

As defined by Investopedia, a country whose total value of all imported goods is higher than its value of all exports is said to have a negative trade balance or deficit.

It would be unrealistic for any exporting nation to expect across-the-board positive trade balances with all its importing partners. Similarly, that export country doesn’t necessarily post a negative trade balance with each individual partner with which it exchanges exports and imports.

Germany incurred the highest trade deficits with the following countries:

  1. China: -US$16 billion (country-specific trade deficit in 2017)
  2. Vietnam: -$6.9 billion
  3. Czech Republic: -$5.5 billion
  4. Ireland: -$5.4 billion
  5. Bangladesh: -$5.2 billion
  6. Malaysia: -$4.3 billion
  7. Netherlands: -$4 billion
  8. Japan: -$3.8 billion
  9. Libya: -$2.5 billion
  10. Kazakhstan: -$2.5 billion

Among Germany’s trading partners that cause the greatest negative trade balances, German deficits with Libya (up 803.7%), Malaysia (up 39.6%), Czech Republic (up 31.1%) and Kazakhstan (up 27%) grew at the fastest pace from 2016 to 2017.

These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate Germany’s competitive disadvantages with the above countries, but also represent key opportunities for Germany to develop country-specific strategies to strengthen its overall position in international trade.

Surpluses

Overall, Germany posted a trade surplus equal to $276.6 billion in 2017. That dollar amount in black ink represents a 4.9% uptick from the $263.6-billion surplus during 2010 but a -1.2% dip from Germany’s $280.1-billion trade surplus during 2016.

Based on Investopedia’s definition of net importer, a country whose total value of all imported goods is lower than its value of all exports is said to have a positive trade balance or surplus.

Germany incurred the highest trade surpluses with the following countries:

  1. United States: US$57 billion (country-specific trade surplus in 2017)
  2. United Kingdom: $53.3 billion
  3. France: $46.2 billion
  4. Austria: $24.2 billion
  5. Spain: $12.8 billion
  6. Sweden: $12.4 billion
  7. United Arab Emirates: $11.4 billion
  8. Italy: $10.9 billion
  9. Poland: $9.6 billion
  10. Switzerland: $9.4 billion

Among Germany’s trading partners that generate the greatest positive trade balances, German surpluses with Switzerland (up 64.8%), Poland (up 30.3%) and France (up 22.4%) grew at the fastest pace from 2016 to 2017.

These positive cashflow streams clearly indicate Germany’s competitive advantages with the above countries, but also represent key opportunities for Germany to develop country-specific strategies to optimize its overall position in international trade.

Companies

German Companies Servicing Trading Partners

Fifty-two German corporations rank among Forbes Global 2000. Below is a sample of major German export companies:

  • Adidas (apparel/accessories)
  • Allianz (diversified insurance)
  • BASF (diversified chemicals)
  • Bayer (diversified chemicals)
  • BMW Group (cars, trucks)
  • Continental (automotive parts)
  • Daimler (cars, trucks)
  • Fresenius (medical equipment, supplies)
  • Heidelberg Cement (construction materials)
  • Henkel (household/personal care items)
  • Linde (diversified chemicals)
  • Merck (pharmaceuticals)
  • Siemens (conglomerate, engineering)
  • Volkswagen Group (cars, trucks)

According to IMPORTERS.com listings for German suppliers, the following are also examples of companies that ship products from Germany to its trading partners around the globe. Shown within parenthesis are products that the German business provides.

  • 7Trade (mobile phones)
  • Euro Car Export Ltd (vehicles)
  • Flaskamp GmbH (liquid soap, washing powder)
  • IMarketing Skirde Ltd (sports bags, garments)
  • Kareva Marketing GmbH (calcium chloride, other drilling chemicals)
  • Kgz Ersatzteile (diesel fuel lift pumps)
  • Merbstrade (crude oil)
  • Origiparts GmbH & Co. KG (engines, electrical parts)
  • Tieig Industrial Group (industrial adhesives)
  • Weser Apotheke (pharmaceuticals)


 

See also Germany’s Top 10 Imports, Germany’s Top 10 Major Export Companies, Germany’s Top 10 Exports, Top German Trade Balances and Highest Value German Export Products

Research Sources:
The World Factbook, Field Listing: Imports – Commodities, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on March 7, 2018

Trade Map, International Trade Centre, www.intracen.org/marketanalysis. Accessed on March 7, 2018

Investopedia, Net Importer Definition. Accessed on March 7, 2018

Forbes 2015 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on March 7, 2018

IMPORTERS.com The Online Market for G20 Importers, Germany Import Export Directory. Accessed on March 7, 2018