A strategic juncture for Europe, Asia and Africa, the Hellenic Republic commonly known as Greece shipped $37.8 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2019. That dollar amount reflects a 33.7% increase from 2015 but a -4.2% decrease from 2018 to 2019.
Based on the average exchange rate for 2019, Greece uses the euro which appreciated by 0.9% against the US dollar since 2015 but declined by -5.5% from 2018 to 2019. The weaker EU currency in 2019 made Greece’s exports paid for in stronger US dollars relatively less expensive for international buyers compared to 2018.
From a continental perspective, 65.2% of Greek exports by value were delivered to fellow European countries while 20.5% were sold to Asian importers. Greece shipped another 6.9% worth of goods to Africa. Smaller percentages went to North American (4.8%), Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean (1.6%) then Oceania led by Australia and Marshall Islands (1%).
Given Greece’s population of 10.7 million people, its total $37.8 billion in 2019 exports translates to roughly $3,500 for every resident in the southern European nation.
Greece’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Greek global shipments during 2019. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Greece.
- Mineral fuels including oil: US$11.9 billion (31.5% of total exports)
- Pharmaceuticals: $2.2 billion (5.7%)
- Machinery including computers: $2 billion (5.2%)
- Aluminum: $1.9 billion (5.1%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $1.3 billion (3.5%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $1.3 billion (3.4%)
- Vegetable/fruit/nut preparations: $1.2 billion (3.2%)
- Fruits, nuts: $1.1 billion (2.9%)
- Dairy, eggs, honey: $785.6 million (2.1%)
- Fish: $763.1 million (2%)
Greece’s top 10 exports accounted for 64.7% of the overall value of its global shipments.
Pharmaceuticals represent the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 25.2% since 2018. In second place for improving export sales was the electrical machinery and equipment category via a 9.8% gain. Greece’s shipments of machinery including computers posted the third-fastest gain in value up by 5.8%.
The leading decliner among Greece’s top 10 export categories were mineral fuels including oil thanks to a -12% drop year over year.
Note that the results listed above are at the categorized two-digit Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) code level. For a more granular view of exported goods at the four-digit HTS code level, see the section Searchable List of Greece’s Most Valuable Export Products further down below.
The following types of Greek 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.
- Vegetable/fruit/nut preparations: US$906.3 million (Down by -3.1% since 2018)
- Aluminum: $861 million (Up by 10.7%)
- Fruits, nuts: $667 million (Up by 3.5%)
- Cotton: $547.9 million (Up by 46.3%)
- Salt, sulphur, stone, cement: $523.1 million (Down by -15.5%)
- Fish: $221.6 million (Down by -13.5%)
- Tobacco, manufactured substitutes: $219.6 million (Up by 30.5%)
- Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: $207.2 million (Down by -60.4%)
- Stone, plaster, cement, asbestos: $152.9 million (Down by -10.5%)
- Furskins, artificial fur: $81.9 million (Down by -13.9%)
Greece has highly positive net exports in the international trade of vegetable, fruit or nut preparations. In turn, these cashflows indicate Greece’s strong competitive advantages under the food preparations product category.
Overall Greece incurred a -$24.3 billion trade deficit during 2019, a -5.1% decrease from the -$25.7 billion in red ink for 2018.
Below are exports from Greece that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Greece’s goods trail Greek importer spending on foreign products.
- Mineral fuels including oil: US-$4.8 billion (Down by -9.8% since 2018)
- Vehicles: -$2.7 billion (Up by 8.9%)
- Machinery including computers: -$2.6 billion (Down by -5.6%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$2.3 billion (Up by 2.1%)
- Organic chemicals: -$2.1 billion (Up by 41.3%)
- Meat: -$1.3 billion (Up by 3.6%)
- Pharmaceuticals: -$930.2 million (Down by -42.6%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$839.8 million (Up by 13.6%)
- Paper, paper items: -$835.5 million (Down by -2%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: -$805.1 million (Up by 5.8%)
Greece has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits under the mineral fuels including oil subcategory, notably for crude petroleum oil.
These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate Greece’s competitive disadvantages in the international mineral fuels market, but also represent key opportunities for Greece to improve its position in the global economy through focused innovations in alternative energy resources.
Greek Export Companies
Based on Forbes Global 2000 rankings, here are examples of large international trade players headquartered in Greece:
- Hellenic Petroleum (refined oil, gas)
- Hellenic Telecom Organization (telecommunications)
- Motor Oil Hellas (oil, gas)
Global trade intelligence firm Zepol also mentions the following companies as examples of Greek exporters:
- Inomessiniak (wine, olive oil)
- Interoliva (olives, glass bottles and jars)
- Promelk (t-shirts, brassieres, sweaters)
- St Agelopoulo (olives, live carp)
- Tsalma Marble Of Central North Greece (monument/building stone, wood boxes/cases/crates)
Searchable List of Greece’s Most Valuable Export Products
The following searchable table displays 100 of the most in-demand goods shipped from Greece during 2019. Shown beside each product label is its total export value then the percentage increase or decrease since 2018.
|Rank||Greece's Export Product||2019 Value (US$)||Change|
|1||Processed petroleum oils||$11,013,785,000||-12.9%|
|2||Medication mixes in dosage||$2,065,773,000||+26.2%|
|3||Computers, optical readers||$756,179,000||-2.2%|
|4||Aluminum plates, sheets, strips||$715,590,000||-8.3%|
|5||Cotton (uncarded, uncombed)||$588,688,000||+47.4%|
|6||Whole fish (fresh)||$582,415,000||-3.9%|
|7||Other prepared/preserved vegetables (non-frozen)||$561,519,000||-2.8%|
|9||Copper tubes, pipes||$514,424,000||-6.8%|
|10||Petroleum oil residues||$433,666,000||+12%|
|13||Miscellaneous preserved fruits||$375,765,000||+1.9%|
|15||Aluminum foil (thin)||$361,560,000||-6.6%|
|16||Calcareous monument/building stone including marble||$277,690,000||-18.9%|
|17||Other food preparations||$272,322,000||+9.9%|
|20||Miscellaneous fruits (fresh)||$241,786,000||+20%|
|22||Models, puzzles, miscellaneous toys||$240,105,000||+3.9%|
|24||Coiled iron or non-alloy steel bars, rods||$219,778,000||-17.5%|
|26||Iron and steel tubes, pipes||$208,915,000||-47.1%|
|27||Fresh or dried citrus fruit||$204,776,000||-11.8%|
|28||Buttermilk, cream, yogurt||$197,240,000||+6.7%|
|30||Phone system devices including smartphones||$187,954,000||-9.1%|
|31||Plastic plates, sheets, film, tape, strips||$183,038,000||+2%|
|32||Monument/building stones, art||$175,866,000||-3.6%|
|33||Beauty/makeup/skin care preparations||$174,837,000||+7.8%|
|34||Electric storage batteries||$172,626,000||+67.9%|
|36||Iron or non-alloy steel bars, rods||$171,054,000||-14%|
|38||Women's clothing (knit or crochet)||$160,826,000||+52.9%|
|39||Unmanufactured tobacco, tobacco waste||$160,404,000||-26.9%|
|40||Centrifuges, filters and purifiers||$157,816,000||+130.4%|
|41||Apricots, cherries, peaches, nectarines, plums||$156,817,000||+0.02%|
|42||Plastic packing goods, lids, caps||$150,541,000||-3.4%|
|43||Grapes (fresh or dried)||$149,749,000||-7.1%|
|44||Piston engine parts||$142,850,000||+14.9%|
|46||Bread, biscuits, cakes, pastries||$134,306,000||+5.4%|
|47||Footwear (rubber or plastic)||$127,938,000||+163.5%|
|48||Miscellaneous iron and steel structures||$126,089,000||+10.6%|
|50||Furskin clothing and accessories||$120,518,000||-17.6%|
|52||Plastic plates, sheets, film, tape, strips||$118,552,000||+4.5%|
|53||Knitted/crocheted women's blouses, shirts||$118,361,000||-8.3%|
|54||Edible plant parts||$114,892,000||-8.7%|
|55||Other organic cleaning preparations||$111,963,000||+16.8%|
|56||Sanitary towels, baby napkins/liners||$111,671,000||+3.5%|
|57||Plastic tableware, kitchenware, toiletry||$110,168,000||-5.7%|
|58||Flour/meal/starch/malt extract food preparations||$109,921,000||-5.2%|
|59||Paint/varnish non-aqueous solution||$96,854,000||-3.4%|
|60||Miscellaneous iron or steel tubes, pipes||$96,417,000||+41.7%|
|61||Jerseys, pullovers (knit or crochet)||$96,266,000||+188.3%|
|62||Women's clothing (not knit or crochet)||$91,159,000||+36.3%|
|67||Alcohol (including spirits, liqueurs)||$84,569,000||-4.5%|
|68||T-shirts, vests (knit or crochet)||$84,028,000||+5.3%|
|70||Carbon/natural mineral products||$79,893,000||-7.9%|
|75||Other than warp-knit fabrics||$75,518,000||+6.1%|
|77||Synthetic yarn woven fabrics||$72,379,000||-7.4%|
|78||Copper waste, scrap||$70,363,000||-1%|
|79||Chemical industry products/residuals||$70,302,000||-25.8%|
|80||Bridge structures, parts||$68,134,000||+8%|
|81||Electro-medical equip (e.g. xrays)||$67,316,000||+7.2%|
|83||Plastic tubes, pipes, fittings||$65,290,000||+5.9%|
|84||Synthetic organic coloring||$64,728,000||-0.6%|
|85||Miscellaneous dried or salted fish||$64,642,000||-9.7%|
|86||Melons, watermelons, papayas||$64,488,000||-0.2%|
|88||Lamps, lighting, illuminated signs||$62,772,000||-5.9%|
|91||Self-adhesive plastic in rolls||$61,747,000||-2.5%|
|94||Miscellaneous plastic items||$61,604,000||+25%|
|95||Spray/dispersing mechanical appliances||$61,262,000||+1.8%|
|96||Miscellaneous fresh/chilled vegetables||$60,408,000||-14.4%|
|98||Unrecorded sound media||$58,568,000||-7%|
|99||Yachts, other pleasure/sports vessels||$57,963,000||+57.7%|
|100||Electric water heaters, hair dryers||$56,942,000||-1.4%|
These 100 exported goods were worth a subtotal of US$29.8 billion or 78.8% by value for all products exported from Greece during 2019.
In macroeconomic terms, Greece’s total exported goods represent 11.7% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2019 ($324.1 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 11.7% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2019 compares to 12.6% one year earlier. This suggests a relatively decreasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Greece’s total economic performance, albeit based on a very short timeframe.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Greece’s average unemployment rate was 17.802% for 2019 down from 19.3% in 2018, according to the International Monetary Fund.
Greece’s capital city is Athens.
See also Greece’s Top 10 Imports, Greece’s Top Trading Partners and Top EU Export Countries
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook: Country Profiles. Accessed on February 20, 2020
Forbes 2015 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on February 20, 2020
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on June 29, 2019
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on February 20, 2020
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on February 20, 2020
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on February 20, 2020
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Greece. Accessed on February 20, 2020
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on February 20, 2020
Zepol’s company summary highlights by country. Accessed on February 20, 2020