A landlocked Western European nation surrounded by economic powerhouses Germany, France and Belgium, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg shipped US$16.5 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2019. That dollar amount reflects a 30.8% improvement since 2015 and a 9% uptick from 2018 to 2019.
Based on the average exchange rate for 2019, Luxembourg 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 Luxembourg’s exports paid for in stronger US dollars relatively less expensive for international buyers compared to 2018.
The latest available country-specific data shows that 79.5% of products exported from Luxembourg were bought by importers in: Germany (23.9% of the global total), France (15.5%), Belgium (11.1%), Netherlands (5.3%), Italy (4.5%), United Kingdom (4.2%), Poland (2.8%), United States (2.7%), Sweden (2.6%), Spain (also 2.6%), Czech Republic (2.5%) and Austria (1.8%).
From a continental perspective, 85.9% of Luxembourg’s exports by value were delivered to fellow European countries while 6.3% were sold to importers in Asia. Luxembourg shipped another 3.6% worth of goods to North America. Smaller percentages went to Africa (1.1%), Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean (0.8%) then Oceania led by Australia (0.2%).
Given Luxembourg’s population of 614,000 people, its total $16.5 billion in 2019 exports translates to roughly $26,900 for every resident in the Western European country.
Luxembourg’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Luxembourg global shipments during 2019. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Luxembourg.
- Electrical machinery, equipment: US$2.4 billion (14.5% of total exports)
- Machinery including computers: $2.1 billion (12.7%)
- Iron, steel: $1.7 billion (10.6%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $1.5 billion (9.4%)
- Vehicles: $1.3 billion (8%)
- Articles of iron or steel: $851.8 million (5.2%)
- Rubber, rubber articles: $713.3 million (4.3%)
- Aluminum: $492.4 million (3%)
- Dairy, eggs, honey: $434.8 million (2.6%)
- Paper, paper items: $417.2 million (2.5%)
Luxembourg’s top 10 exports accounted for almost three-quarters (72.7%) of the overall value of its global shipments.
Electrical machinery and equipment was the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 168% from 2018 to 2019. In second place for improving export sales was vehicles via a 13.9% gain. Luxembourg’s shipments of machinery including computers posted the third-fastest expansion in value up by 4%.
The leading decliner among Luxembourg’s top 10 export categories was iron and steel thanks to a -14.5% drop year over year.
At the more granular four-digit Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) code level, Luxembourg’s most valuable exported products are phone system devices including smartphones (10.2% of total), iron or non-alloy steel angles, shapes and sections (5.6%), cars (3.8%), new rubber tires (3.4%), iron or sheet piling (2.8%), cellulose fiber paper (2.3%), self-adhesive plastic in rolls (2.1%) then plated or coated flat-rolled iron or non-alloy steel products (also 2.1%).
The following types of Luxembourg 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.
- Iron, steel: US$456.8 million (Up by 2.5% since 2018)
- Articles of iron or steel: $315.8 million (Up by 9.5%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $244.7 million (Up by 97.7%)
- Felt, yarn, twine, ropes, cables: $243.4 million (Up by 7.8%)
- Glass: $217.7 million (Down by -13.9%)
- Rubber, rubber articles: $156.1 million (Down by -9.1%)
- Coated/laminated textile fabric: $137.5 million (Up by 6.6%)
- Vegetable/fruit/nut preparations: $61 million (Down by -14.4%)
- Dairy, eggs, honey: $55.8 million (Down by -15%)
- Copper: $55.7 million (Up by 32.1%)
Luxembourg has highly positive net exports in the international trade of iron or steel including items made from those articles. In turn, these cashflows indicate Luxembourg’s strong competitive advantages under the iron or steel category.
Luxembourg incurred an overall -$7.5 billion trade deficit during 2019, down by -6.1% from -$8 billion in red ink one year earlier.
Below are exports from Luxembourg that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Luxembourg’s goods trail Luxembourg importer spending on foreign products.
- Mineral fuels including oil: US-$2.3 billion (Down by -4.7% since 2018)
- Vehicles: -$2.2 billion (Up by 4.9%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$466.7 million (Down by -24.5%)
- Pharmaceuticals: -$392.4 million (Down by -3.6%)
- Beverages, spirits, vinegar: -$354.6 million (Down by -7.1%)
- Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefabricated buildings: -$302.3 million (Down by -6%)
- Aircraft, spacecraft: -$274 million (Up by 6.7%)
- Fruits, nuts: -$194.9 million (Down by -9.1%)
- Inorganic chemicals: -$178.1 million (Down by -30.2%)
- Machinery including computers: -$177.2 million (Up by 13.9%)
Luxembourg has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits for refined petroleum oils under the mineral fuels including oil category.
Luxembourg Export Companies
Seven corporations based in Luxembourg rank among Forbes Global 2000, including the bank Espirito Santo Financial. Below are the other major Luxembourg companies that Forbes included.
- ArcelorMittal (iron, steel)
- Millicom International (telecommunications)
- RTL Group (broadcasting, cable)
- SES (broadcasting, cable)
- Tenaris (oil services, equipment)
- Ternium (iron, steel)
Wikipedia also lists companies from Luxembourg, many of which are significant international trade players.
- Brasserie Nationale (brewery)
- Cargolux (cargo airliner)
- Ceratizit (hard metals)
- ROTAREX Group (medical equipment)
In macroeconomic terms, Luxembourg’s total exported goods represent 24.7% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2019 ($66.8 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 24.7% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2019 compares to 25.2% for 2018. Those percentages suggest a relatively decreasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Luxembourg’s total economic performance albeit based on a short timeframe. These metrics include a significant amount of re-exporting activity.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Luxembourg’s average unemployment rate was 5.166% in 2019 up from 4.96% in 2018, according to the International Monetary Fund.
Luxembourg’s capital is Luxembourg City.
See also Luxembourg’s Top Trading Partners and Top EU Export Countries
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Europe: Luxembourg. Accessed on March 26, 2020
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on March 26, 2020
International Monetary Fund, Exchange Rates selected indicators (National Currency per U.S. dollar, period average). Accessed on March 26, 2020
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on March 26, 2020
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on March 26, 2020
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on March 26, 2020
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on March 26, 2020
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Luxembourg. Accessed on March 26, 2020
Wikipedia, Luxembourg. Accessed on March 26, 2020
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on March 26, 2020