World’s Top Export Products

Jewelry conceptual

Jewelry conceptual

Which export product categories were most lucrative during 2018 in terms of sales? That’s an important question for profit-minded entrepreneurs looking for opportunities to focus on goods attracting the greatest demand around the world.

Electronics and machinery including computers have overtaken mineral fuels-related goods as the world’s most valuable export products. This trend persists despite recently increasing oil prices.

Vehicles are also vital for physical transportation regardless if you live in a crowded city or a remote rural area, which helps explain why vehicles placed fourth among the highest value exports.

Precious metals, gems and plastics are also export sales leaders.

World’s Top Export Products

Below are the world’s top export product categories that generated the highest dollar values during 2018. Also shown is each product group’s overall share of worldwide shipments.

RankProduct Category2018 Exports2017-8
1Electrical machinery, equipment $2.782 trillion+8.1%
2Mineral fuels including oil $2.500 trillion+24%
3Machinery including computers $2.282 trillion+9%
4Vehicles $1.520 trillion+4.7%
5Plastics, plastic articles $656.4 billion+9.7%
6Gems, precious metals $622.3 billion-5.6%
7Optical, technical, medical apparatus $614 billion+5.2%
8Pharmaceuticals $600.9 billion+11.7%
9Organic chemicals $450.1 billion+17.2%
10Iron, steel $420 billion+11.9%
11Aircraft, spacecraft $331.7 billion+0.2%
12Articles of iron or steel $310.1 billion+8.9%
13Furniture, bedding, lighting , signs, prefab buildings $259.6 billion+7.1%
14Knit or crochet clothing, accessories $242.9 billion+7.4%
15Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet) $238.8 billion+4.7%
16Ores, slag, ash $218.7 billion+6.7%
17Other chemical goods $211 billion+11%
18Aluminum $197.9 billion+12%
19Rubber, rubber articles $191.3 billion+2.7%
20Paper, paper items $175.6 billion+8.4%
21Copper $157.6 billion+8.7%
22Footwear $150.1 billion+7%
23Wood $148.7 billion+9.1%
24Perfumes, cosmetics $143 billion+9.3%
25Inorganic chemicals $131.7 billion+17.4%
26Meat $128 billion+2.5%
27Fish$124.8 billion+3.8%
28Beverages, spirits, vinegar$124.2 billion+7%
29Fruits, nuts $123.2 billion+1.6%
30Toys, games $121.9 billion+5.5%
31Ships, boats $120.9 billion-10.6%
32Cereals $110.1 billion+6.1%
33Oil seeds $100.4 billion+2.1%
34Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes $92.9 billion-7.2%
35Dairy, eggs, honey $86.8 billion+0.4%
36Tanning, dyes, paints, varnishes, ink $85.2 billion+6.3%
37Leather/animal gut articles $84.2 billion+8.2%
38Food industry waste, animal fodder $77.2 billion+9.4%
39Glass $76.5 billion+5.9%
40Miscellaneous food preparations $76.2 billion+9.2%
41Cereal/milk preparations $75.3 billion+5.3%
42Other base metal goods $71.3 billion+6.3%
43Base metal tools, cutlery $70.1 billion+6.8%
44Vegetables $70.1 billion-5%
45Miscellaneous textiles, worn clothing $66.4 billion+4.1%
46Vegetable/fruit/nut preparations $64.5 billion+3%
47Soaps, washing preparations, lubricants, waxes $62.3 billion+5%
48Fertilizers $59.9 billion+17%
49Cotton $59.1 billion+4%
50Ceramic products $58.1 billion+9.8%
51Woodpulp $55.6 billion+16.4%
52Stone, plaster, cement, asbestos $54.7 billion+7%
53Miscellaneous manufactured articles$53 billion+2.5%
54Meat/seafood preparations $52.8 billion+7.6%
55Clocks, watches including parts $52 billion+3.3%
56Manmade filaments $50.6 billion+6.1%
57Cocoa $49.3 billion+2.9%
58Coffee, tea, spices $48.2 billion-6.4%
59Salt, sulphur, stone, cement $47.3 billion+12.5%
60Tobacco, manufactured substitutes $42.8 billion-9.7%
61Railways, streetcars$40.3 billion+8.3%
62Sugar, sugar confectionery $40 billion-18%
63Manmade staple fibers $38.1 billion+4.5%
64Books, newspapers, pictures $37.6 billion+0.8%
65Knit or crochet fabric $36.4 billion+3.3%
66Collector items, art, antiques $32.3 billion+16.9%
67Modified starches, glues, enzymes $30.2 billion+5.5%
68Felt, yarn, twine, ropes, cables $27.3 billion+6.9%
69Coated/laminated textile fabric $26.8 billion+5.5%
70Nickel $26.8 billion+29.3%
71Other base metals $24.8 billion+25.1%
72Raw hides, skins not furskins, leather$23.9 billion-8.1%
73Live trees, plants, cut flowers $22.7 billion+8%
74Live animals $21.5 billion-3.8%
75Zinc $20.1 billion+4%
76Milling products, malt, starches $19 billion+3.3%
77Textile floor coverings $15.8 billion-1.5%
78Photo/cinematographic goods $15.4 billion+5.4%
79Arms, ammunition $14.9 billion-2.9%
80Wool $14.4 billion+8.2%
81Special woven/tufted fabric, embroidery $12.7 billion+2.5%
82Miscellaneous animal-origin products $11.4 billion+11.4%
83Headgear $10.3 billion+8.4%
84Feathers, artificial flowers, hair $9.3 billion+15.3%
85Furskins, artificial fur $9.3 billion+1.8%
86Lead $8.7 billion-1.7%
87Gums, resins, other vegetable saps$8.1 billion+11%
88Musical instruments $6.8 billion+6.5%
89Tin $5.8 billion-2.5%
90Paper yarn, woven fabric $4.8 billion+11.2%
91Explosives, pyrotechnics, matches $4.6 billion+6.9%
92Umbrellas, walking-sticks $3.6 billion+4.3%
93Plaiting products, basketware.wickerwork $2.5 billion+8.8%
94Silk$2.1 billion+2.8%
95Cork, articles of cork $2 billion+11.1%
96Vegetable plaiting materials $994.4 million+0.7%


In total, the top 20 product groups accounted for over three-quarters (77.1%) of global exports in 2018. The 20 top export product categories appreciated by an average 2.8% in 2018 compared to 2014, an increase greater than the 1.2% benchmark gain for all export product categories.

From 2017 to 2018, the average increase for the top 20 product groups was 8.2% which is similar to the benchmark 8.5% growth for all product groups.

Posting the greatest percentages gains over the latest 5-year period were miscellaneous base metals (up 32.4%), zinc (up 27.6%), toys and games (up 27.4%), perfumes and cosmetics (up 20.9%) then woodpulp (up 20%).

Leading the declining product categories since 2014 were leather and raw hides excluding furskins (down -34.5%), explosives including pyrotechnics (down -29.9%), tin (down -26.6%), furskins and artificial fur (down -26.2%), silk (down -25.9%), books, newspapers and pictures (down -18.8%) then mineral fuels including oil (down -18.5%).

See also World’s Top Exports Report Card for Products and Countries

Research Sources:
Central Intelligence Agency, Field Listing: Exports, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on June 11, 2019

Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on June 11, 2019