That dollar amount reflects a 23.2% increase since 2017 when Danish exports amounted to $101.4 billion and accelerating by 16.6% from $107.2 billion in 2020.
Denmark’s top 5 most valuable exported products are medication mixes in dosage, pork, blood fractions including antisera, refined petroleum oils, and electric generating sets or converters. Collectively, that cohort of leading Danish exports accounted for over one-fifth (21.2%) of Denmark’s overall revenues from exports during 2021.
Based on the average exchange rate for 2021, the Danish krone appreciated by 4.8% against the US dollar since 2017 and strengthened by 3.9% from 2020 to 2021. Denmark’s stronger local currency makes its exports paid for in weaker US dollars relatively more expensive for international buyers.
Denmark’s Most Valuable Trading Partners
The latest available country-specific data shows that 69.6% of products exported from Denmark were bought by importers in: Germany (15.7% of Denmark’s global total), Sweden (11.5%), Norway (6.9%), United Kingdom (6.5%), United States of America (5.7%), Netherlands (5.6%), mainland China (4.1%), Poland (3.6%), France (3.5%), Italy (2.5%), Finland (2.1%) and Spain (2%).
From a continental perspective, about three-quarters (74.7%) of Denmark’s exports by value were delivered to fellow European countries while 14.5% were sold to importers in Asia. Denmark shipped another 6.9% worth of goods to North America.
Tinier percentages went to Oceania led by Australia (1.38%), Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean (1.3%) then Africa (1.28%).
Given Denmark’s population of 5.84 million people, its total $125 billion in 2021 exports translates to roughly $21,400 for every resident in the northern European country. That dollar metric exceeds the average $18,700 per capita one year earlier in 2020.
Denmark’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Danish global shipments during 2021. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Denmark.
- Pharmaceuticals: US$19.4 billion (15.6% of total exports)
- Machinery including computers: $16.6 billion (13.3%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $9.6 billion (7.6%)
- Mineral fuels including oil: $6.1 billion (4.9%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $4.7 billion (3.8%)
- Meat: $4.3 billion (3.4%)
- Furniture, bedding, lighting , signs, prefab buildings: $3.9 billion (3.1%)
- Vehicles: $3.8 billion (3%)
- Fish: $3.6 billion (2.8%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $3.1 billion (2.5%)
Denmark’s top 10 exports accounted for 60.1% of the overall value of its global shipments.
Mineral fuels including oil represents the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 144.4% from 2020 to 2021.
In second place for improving export sales was furniture, bedding, lighting, signs and prefab buildings via a 25% acceleration.
Denmark’s shipments of fish posted the third-fastest gain in value, up by 23%.
The smallest gain among Denmark’s top 10 export categories was for its exported pharmaceuticals, thanks to a 1.7% year-over-year increase.
At the more detailed four-digit Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) code level, Denmark’s most valuable exported products are medication mixes in dosage (12.7% of total), swine meat (2.5%), blood fractions including antisera (2.4%), processed petroleum oils (1.9%), electric generating sets or converters (1.6%), hormones and miscellaneous steroids (1.5%), miscellaneous furniture (also 1.5%), cheese and curd (1.4%), cars (also 1.4%) then enzymes including prepared versions (1.2%).
Products Generating Denmark’s Highest Trade Surpluses
Denmark earned an overall $3.2 billion trade surplus in 2021, down by -68.8% from the $10.4 billion in black ink one year earlier.
The following types of Danish 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.
- Pharmaceuticals: US$12.9 billion (Down by -6.3% since 2020)
- Meat: $3.2 billion (Up by 4.8%)
- Modified starches, glues, enzymes: $1.95 billion (Up by 22.6%)
- Machinery including computers: $1.93 billion (Up by 63.5%)
- Dairy, eggs, honey: $1.89 billion (Up by 7.9%)
- Organic chemicals: $1.7 billion (Up by 27.4%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $1.3 billion (Up by 14.9%)
- Live animals: $1.2 billion (Down by -16.9%)
- Fish: $879.9 million (Up by 23%)
- Cereal/milk preparations: $546.3 million (Down by -21%)
Denmark has highly positive net exports in the international trade of drugs and medicines. In turn, these cashflows indicate Denmark’s strong competitive advantages under the pharmaceuticals product category.
Products Causing Denmark’s Worst Trade Deficits
Below are exports from Denmark that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Denmark’s goods trail Danish importer spending on foreign products.
- Vehicles: -US$6.1 billion (Up by 20% since 2020)
- Mineral fuels including oil: -$4 billion (Up by 141.4%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$2.2 billion (Up by 72%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$2 billion (Up by 51.7%)
- Wood: -$1.8 billion (Up by 45%)
- Iron, steel: -$988.2 million (Up by 55.2%)
- Ships, boats: -$836.6 million (Up by 6.4%)
- Rubber, rubber articles: -$787.9 million (Up by 51%)
- Paper, paper items: -$749.9 million (Up by 44.9%)
- Fruits, nuts: -$724.6 million (Up by 0.2%)
Denmark has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits under the vehicles category notably for cars, trucks, trailers, tractors and even bicycles.
These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate Denmark’s competitive disadvantages in the international vehicles market, but also represent key opportunities for Denmark to improve its position in the global economy through focused innovations on alternative transportation means.
Denmark’s Major Export Companies
Fourteen Danish corporations rank among Forbes Global 2000 for 2017. Below is a sample of the major Danish companies that Forbes included.
- A.P. Moller-Maersk Group (transportation, energy)
- Carlsberg (beverages)
- Coloplast (medical equipment, supplies)
- DSV (transportation, logistics)
- Novo Nordisk (pharmaceuticals)
- Novozymes (biotechs)
- TDC (telecommunications services)
- Vestas Wind Systems (electrical equipment)
Wikipedia also lists exporters from Denmark. Selected examples are shown below.
- Arla Foods (dairy products)
- House of Amber (jewelry)
- Kopenhagen Fur (fur clothing, accessories)
- Lego Group (toys)
- Pharma Nord (pharmaceuticals)
- Royal Copenhagen (porcelain)
- Tuborg (brewery)
In macroeconomic terms, Denmark’s total exported goods represent 33.5% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2021 ($373.5 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 33.5% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2021 compares to 32.2% one year earlier. Those percentages suggest an increasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Denmark’s total economic performance, albeit based on a short timeframe.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Denmark’s unemployment rate averaged 5.083% during 2021, down from an average 5.658% for 2020 according to data from the International Monetary Fund.
Denmark’s capital city is Copenhagen.
See also Denmark’s Top 10 Imports, Denmark’s Top Trading Partners, Drugs and Medicine Exports by Country and Top Blood Exporters by Country
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Country Profiles. Accessed on June 5, 2022
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on June 5, 2022
International Monetary Fund, Exchange Rates selected indicators (National Currency per U.S. dollar, period average). Accessed on June 5, 2022
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on June 5, 2022
Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on June 5, 2022
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on June 5, 2022
Wikipedia, Denmark. Accessed on June 5, 2022
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on June 5, 2022
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Denmark. Accessed on June 5, 2022
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on June 5, 2022