Based on the average exchange rate for 2021, the euro appreciated by 5% against the US dollar since 2017 and strengthened by 3.9% from 2020 to 2021. The stronger European Union currency in 2021 made Germany’s imports paid for in weaker US dollars in 2021 relatively less expensive than in 2020 when converted starting from euros.
German imports represent 8% of total global imports which totaled an estimated $17.706 trillion one year earlier in 2020.
Germany’s 5 biggest imported products by value in 2021 were cars, petroleum gases, blood fractions including antisera, crude oil and automobile parts or accessories. Collectively, that quintet of leading imports represents 16.3% of Germany’s total spending on imported goods during 2021.
Applying a continental lens, almost two-thirds (64.1%) of Germany’s total imports by value in 2021 were purchased from fellow European countries. Trade partners in Asia satisfied 24.6% of import purchases by Germany while 7.4% worth of goods originated from North America.
Smaller percentages came from customers in Africa (2.2%), Latin America (1.3%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean, then Oceania (0.4%) led by Australia.
Given Germany’s population of 83.3 million people, its total $1.421 trillion in 2021 imports translates to roughly $17,100 in yearly product demand from every person in the European republic. That per-capita amount easily outpaced the average $14,100 one year earlier in 2020.
Germany’s Top 10 Imports
The following product groups represent the highest dollar value in Germany’s import purchases during 2021. Also shown is the percentage share each product category represents in terms of overall imports into Germany.
- Electrical machinery, equipment: US$179.8 billion (12.7% of total imports)
- Machinery including computers: $176 billion (12.4%)
- Vehicles: $135.2 billion (9.5%)
- Mineral fuels including oil: $127.7 billion (9%)
- Pharmaceuticals: $79.3 billion (5.6%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $55.3 billion (3.9%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $49 billion (3.4%)
- Gems, precious metals: $39.9 billion (2.8%)
- Organic chemicals: $39.9 billion (2.8%)
- Iron, steel: $35.6 billion (2.5%)
Germany’s top 10 imports accounted for 64.6% of the overall value of its product purchases from other countries.
The fastest-growing top categories from 2020 to 2021 were mineral fuels including oil (up 67.1%), iron and steel as materials (up 64.6%), gems and precious metals (up 37.2%) and plastics as a material plus items made from plastic (up 32.5%).
Note that the results listed above are at the categorized two-digit Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) code level. For a more detailed view of imported goods at the four-digit HTS code level, see the adjacent virtual folder tabs by product category.
In 2021, German importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of electrical equipment including consumer electronics.
- Phone devices including smartphones: US$25.6 billion (up 1.2% from 2020)
- Integrated circuits/microassemblies: $16.9 billion (up 27.1%)
- Insulated wire/cable: $12.8 billion (up 25.5%)
- Electric storage batteries: $12.5 billion (up 53.6%)
- Electrical converters/power units: $9.9 billion (up 25.9%)
- Lower-voltage switches, fuses: $9.7 billion (up 24.1%)
- Electrical/optical circuit boards, panels: $8.3 billion (up 11.3%)
- Solar power diodes/semi-conductors: $8.1 billion (up 28.8%)
- TV receivers/monitors/projectors: $7.1 billion (up 16.2%)
- Electric motors, generators: $6.4 billion (up 18%)
Among these import subcategories, German purchases of electric storage batteries:(up 53.6%), solar power diodes and semi-conductors (up 28.8%) then integrated circuits or microassemblies (up 27.1%) grew at the fastest pace from 2020 to 2021.
These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of imported electronics among German businesses and consumers.
In 2021, German importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of machines including computers.
- Computers, optical readers: US$33 billion (up 18.8% from 2020)
- Turbo-jets: $10.9 billion (up 9.2%)
- Centrifuges, filters and purifiers: $8.9 billion (up 21.4%)
- Printing machinery: $8.4 billion (up 7.1%)
- Taps, valves, similar appliances: $7.7 billion (up 19%)
- Piston engine parts: $6.6 billion (up 17.6%)
- Transmission shafts, gears, clutches: $5.9 billion (up 18.3%)
- Miscellaneous machinery: $5.8 billion (up 6.9%)
- Air or vacuum pumps: $5.7 billion (up 15.8%)
- Computer parts, accessories: $5.6 billion (down -0.2%)
Among these import subcategories, German purchases of centrifuges, filters and purifiers (up 21.4%), taps, valves and similar appliances (up 19%) then computers including optical readers (up 18.8%) grew at the fastest pace from 2020 to 2021.
These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of imported machinery among German businesses and consumers.
In 2021, German importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of vehicles.
- Cars: US$66.7 billion (up 0.4% from 2020)
- Automobile parts/accessories: $37.8 billion (up 11.1%)
- Trucks: $7.2 billion (up 7.8%)
- Motorcycle parts/accessories: $3.8 billion (up 39.9%)
- Motorcycles: $3.2 billion (up 21.7%)
- Trailers: $3.1 billion (up 30.1%)
- Tractors: $2.9 billion (up 13.6%)
- Public-transport vehicles: $1.2 billion (down -10.4%)
- Bicycles, other non-motorized cycles: $907.4 million (up 9.8%)
- Special purpose vehicles: $814.7 million (down -0.2%)
Among these import subcategories, German purchases of motorcycle parts or accessories (up 39.9%), trailers (up 30.1%) then motorcycles (up 21.7%) grew at the fastest pace from 2020 to 2021.
These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of imported vehicles among German businesses and consumers.
In 2021, German importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of mineral fuels-related products.
- Petroleum gases: US$47.3 billion (up 100% from 2020)
- Crude oil: $40 billion (up 45.8%)
- Processed petroleum oils: $21.7 billion (up 43.8%)
- Electrical energy: $5.6 billion (up 139.9%)
- Coal, solid fuels made from coal: $5.3 billion (up 93.7%)
- Coal tar oils (high temperature distillation): $1.3 billion (up 120.2%)
- Coke, semi-coke: $780.5 million (up 102.8%)
- Petroleum jelly, mineral waxes: $374.4 million (up 27.5%)
- Petroleum oil residues: $302 million (up 21%)
- Peat: $115.1 million (up 17.6%)
Among these import subcategories, German purchases of electrical energy (up 139.9%), high temperature distilled coal tar oils (up 120.2%) then coke or semi-coke (up 102.8%) grew at the fastest pace from 2020 to 2021.
These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of mineral fuels-related imports among German businesses and consumers.
See also Germany’s Top 10 Exports, Germany’s Top Trading Partners, Top German Trade Balances and Germany’s Top 10 Major Export Companies
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Country Profiles. Accessed on March 16, 2022
Imported Consumer Products, Germany’s Top 100 Imported Consumer Products. Accessed on June 28, 2021
International Monetary Fund, Exchange Rates selected indicators (National Currency per U.S. dollar, period average). Accessed on March 16, 2022
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on March 16, 2022
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on March 16, 2022