A southwest European nation sharing its eastern border with Spain and its western coastline with the Atlantic Ocean, Portugal shipped $67.1 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2019. That dollar amount reflects a 21.8% increase since 2015 but a -9.5% downtick from 2018 to 2019.
Based on the average exchange rate for 2019, Portugal 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 Portugal’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 77.6% of products exported from Portugal were bought by importers in: Spain (24.9% of the global total), France (13%), Germany (12%), United Kingdom (6.1%), United States (5%), Italy (4.5%), Netherlands (3.9%), Belgium (2.3%), Angola (2.1%), Poland (1.3%), Brazil (also 1.3%) and Morocco (1.2%).
From a continental perspective, 77.9% of Portugal exports by value were delivered to fellow European countries while 6.6% were sold to North American importers. Portugal shipped another 6.2% worth of goods to Africa. Smaller percentages went to Asia (4.9%), Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean (2%) then Oceania led by Australia (0.3%).
Given Portugal’s population of 10.3 million people, its total $67.1 billion in 2019 exported goods translates to roughly $6,500 for every resident in the southwest European country.
Portugal’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Portuguese global shipments during 2019. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Portugal.
- Vehicles: US$10.1 billion (15% of total exports)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $5.3 billion (7.9%)
- Mineral fuels including oil: $4.1 billion (6.2%)
- Machinery including computers: $4 billion (6%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $3.3 billion (4.9%)
- Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: $2.4 billion (3.6%)
- Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefab buildings: $2.2 billion (3.3%)
- Paper, paper items: $2.2 billion (3.3%)
- Footwear: $2.1 billion (3.1%)
- Articles of iron or steel: $1.8 billion (2.7%)
Portugal’s top 10 exports accounted for 56.1% of the overall value of its global shipments.
All top export categories declined from 2018 to 2019, ranging from a modest -0.04% set back for vehicles up to a -19% decrease for mineral fuels including oil.
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 Portugal’s Most Valuable Export Products further down below.
The following types of Portuguese 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.
- Footwear: US$1.1 billion (Down by -26% since 2018)
- Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: $1.1 billion (Down by -24%)
- Paper, paper items: $971.9 million (Down by -9.9%)
- Cork, articles of cork: $970.3 million (Down by -10.4%)
- Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefab buildings: $880.9 million (Down by -13.4%)
- Beverages, spirits, vinegar: $687.4 million (Down by -11.7%)
- Woodpulp: $586.6 million (Down by -13.3%)
- Ceramic products: $574.1 million (Down by -19.7%)
- Ores, slag, ash: $512.8 million (Down by -22.9%)
- Miscellaneous textiles, worn clothing: $506 million (Down by -17.7%)
Portugal has highly positive net exports in the international trade of shoes and other footwear. Partly due to Portugal’s relatively small population, these cashflows indicate Portugal’s strong competitive advantages under the footwear product category.
Overall Portugal posted a trade deficit equaling -$22.8 billion for 2019, up 6.3% from -$21.5 billion in red ink one year earlier.
Below are exports from Portugal that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Portugal’s goods trail Portuguese importer spending on foreign products.
- Mineral fuels including oil: -US$6 billion (Down by -7.1% since 2018)
- Machinery including computers: -$4.2 billion (Down by -3.2%)
- Aircraft, spacecraft: -$2.6 billion (Up by 267.5%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$2.5 billion (Up by 31.1%)
- Pharmaceuticals: -$1.8 billion (Down by -12.1%)
- Fish: -$1.3 billion (Down by -10.9%)
- Iron, steel: -$1.2 billion (Down by -13.6%)
- Other chemical goods: -$1.1 billion (Up by 1.7%)
- Meat: -$1.1 billion (Down by -8%)
- Vehicles: -$983.8 million (Down by -42.9%)
Portugal has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits for mineral fuels-related products, particularly for crude oil and petroleum gases.
These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate Portugal’s competitive disadvantages in the international energy market, but also represent key opportunities for Portugal to improve its position in the global economy through focused innovations.
Portuguese Export Companies
According to Forbes Global 2000 rankings, the following are examples of leading Portuguese companies:
- EDP-Energias de Portugal (electric utilities)
- Galp Energia (oil, gas)
- Jeronimo Martins (food retailer)
- Banco Comercial Portugues (regional banks)
- Portugal Telecom (telecommunications services)
The Russian-Portuguese Business Club lists Portugal’s biggest employers involved in international trade:
- Petrogal (oil, gas)
- Volkswagen Autoeuropa (automobiles)
- Portucel Soporcel (paper)
- Philip Morris International (tobacco)
- Delphi Automotive (automotive parts)
Searchable List of Portugal’s Most Valuable Export Products
The following searchable table displays 100 of the most in-demand goods shipped from Portugal during 2019. Shown beside each product label is its total export value then the percentage increase or decrease since 2018.
|Rank||Portugal's Export Product||2019 Value (US$)||Change|
|3||Processed petroleum oils||$3,489,834,000||-19.4%|
|5||Uncoated paper for writing/printing||$1,339,485,000||-13.2%|
|6||Rubber tires (new)||$1,077,065,000||-12.8%|
|9||Seats (excluding barber/dentist chairs)||$1,010,965,000||-8.3%|
|10||T-shirts, vests (knit or crochet)||$975,317,000||-13.4%|
|11||Medication mixes in dosage||$928,877,000||-4.8%|
|13||Plastic plates, sheets, film, tape, strips||$860,752,000||-9.1%|
|20||Chemical woodpulp (non-dissolving)||$595,476,000||-13%|
|21||Agglomerated cork, articles made from agglomerated cork||$577,588,000||-9.8%|
|23||Articles made from natural cork||$508,912,000||-13.8%|
|24||Miscellaneous iron and steel structures||$501,246,000||-10.8%|
|25||Jerseys, pullovers (knit or crochet)||$496,547,000||-9.2%|
|26||Electrical/optical circuit boards, panels||$486,868,000||-4.1%|
|27||Miscellaneous plastic items||$463,850,000||-10.4%|
|30||Glass bottles, jars, pots, other containers||$410,681,000||-12.3%|
|31||Iron or non-alloy steel bars, rods||$397,240,000||-10.8%|
|32||Centrifuges, filters and purifiers||$387,058,000||+181.7%|
|33||Women's clothing (not knit or crochet)||$354,071,000||-5.6%|
|37||Taps, valves, similar appliances||$327,871,000||-14.3%|
|39||Lower-voltage switches, fuses||$311,294,000||-18.8%|
|40||Men's suits, trousers (not knit or crochet)||$309,898,000||-13.2%|
|41||Miscellaneous iron or steel items||$306,721,000||-12%|
|42||Bridge structures, parts||$302,600,000||-6%|
|43||Whole fish (frozen)||$300,737,000||+2.9%|
|44||Phone system devices including smartphones||$296,910,000||-2%|
|45||Miscellaneous fruits (fresh)||$294,841,000||+3%|
|46||Piston engine parts||$286,614,000||-13.2%|
|47||Bread, biscuits, cakes, pastries||$286,512,000||-5.5%|
|48||Solar power diodes/semi-conductors||$277,622,000||+693.4%|
|49||Bicycles, other non-motorized cycles||$269,818,000||-10.9%|
|50||Coiled iron or non-alloy steel bars, rods||$268,270,000||-21.3%|
|51||Other measuring/testing machines||$266,893,000||+1%|
|52||Unglazed ceramic flags, tiles, cubes||$264,280,000||-15.6%|
|54||Plastic packing goods, lids, caps||$253,985,000||-4.6%|
|55||Radar, radio communication items||$253,784,000||-18.9%|
|56||Monument/building stones, art||$250,031,000||-6.2%|
|57||Zinc ores, concentrates||$246,645,000||-11.9%|
|58||Fish, caviar (preserved/prepared)||$239,779,000||-17.9%|
|59||Women's clothing (knit or crochet)||$239,596,000||-20.9%|
|60||Electric water heaters, hair dryers||$234,845,000||-15.5%|
|62||Plastic plates, sheets, film, tape, strips||$212,302,000||-30.9%|
|63||Copper ores, concentrates||$212,024,000||-33.2%|
|64||Twine, cordage, ropes, cables||$211,579,000||-4.3%|
|67||Miscellaneous iron or steel tubes, pipes||$203,962,000||-11%|
|68||Coal tar oils (high temperature distillation)||$201,021,000||-4%|
|69||Ceramic tableware, kitchenware, other household items||$200,798,000||-11.2%|
|72||Tissues, napkins, toilet paper||$198,227,000||+7.5%|
|75||Flat-rolled iron or non-alloy steel products (plated/coated)||$197,595,000||-19.2%|
|76||Air or vacuum pumps||$192,195,000||-17%|
|77||Paper containers, cellulose wadding||$191,077,000||-5.4%|
|78||Plastics-coated textile fabrics||$189,560,000||-10.8%|
|81||Vulcanized rubber items||$179,244,000||-17.8%|
|82||Uncoated kraft paper||$176,297,000||-22.4%|
|84||Electrical converters/power units||$171,942,000||-2.7%|
|85||Vinyl chloride polymers||$170,892,000||-18.9%|
|86||Whole fish (fresh)||$168,763,000||+1.9%|
|87||Miscellaneous aluminum items||$167,202,000||-18.8%|
|90||Ceramic sinks, basins, baths, pans||$154,825,000||-17.6%|
|91||Iron or steel scrap||$149,910,000||-28%|
|92||Medication mixes not in dosage||$148,557,000||+51.2%|
|94||Cases, handbags, wallets||$147,762,000||+2.3%|
|95||Stockings, hosiery (knit or crochet)||$147,139,000||-13.6%|
|97||Fuel wood, wood chips, sawdust||$138,886,000||+27.4%|
|98||Plastic tableware, kitchenware, toiletry||$138,341,000||-17.5%|
|100||TV/radio/radar device parts||$135,610,000||-23.3%|
These 100 exported goods were worth a subtotal of US$47.6 billion or 70.9% by value for all products exported from Portugal during 2019.
In macroeconomic terms, Portugal’s total exported goods represent 21.8% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2019 ($345.6 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 21.8% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2019 compares to 20.9% one year earlier. This seems to indicate a relatively increasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Portugal’s total economic performance, albeit based on a very short timeframe.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Portugal’s average unemployment rate was 6.105% in 2019 down from 6.994% for 2018, according to the International Monetary Fund.
Portugal’s capital city is Lisbon.
See also Portugal’s Top Trading Partners and Portugal’s Top 10 Imports
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook: Country Profiles. Accessed on February 23, 2020
Forbes 2015 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on February 23, 2020
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on February 23, 2020
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on February 23, 2020
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on February 23, 2020
Russian-Portuguese Business Club, Top 10 Portuguese companies – the largest exporters and importers. Accessed on February 23, 2020
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on February 23, 2020
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on February 23, 2020