Based on the average exchange rate for 2020, Germany uses the euro which appreciated by 2% against the US dollar since 2016 and rose by 3.1% from 2019 to 2020. The stronger EU currency in 2020 made Germany’s imports paid for in weaker US dollars in 2020 relatively less expensive than in 2019 when converted starting from euros.
German imports represent 6.1% of total global imports which totaled an estimated $19.085 trillion one year earlier in 2019.
Applying a continental lens, 62.8% of Germany’s total imports by value in 2020 were purchased from fellow European countries. Asian trade partners satisfied 23.3% of import purchases by Germany while 7.9% worth of goods originated from North America. Smaller percentages came from customers in Africa (1.8%), Latin America (1.2%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean, then Oceania (0.4%) led by Australia.
Given Germany’s population of 83.2 million people, its total $1.172 trillion in 2020 imports translates to roughly $14,100 in yearly product demand from every person in the European republic.
Germany’s Top 10 Imports
The following product groups represent the highest dollar value in Germany’s import purchases during 2020. Also shown is the percentage share each product category represents in terms of overall imports into Germany.
- Machinery including computers: US$149.7 billion (12.8% of total imports)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $149.1 billion (12.7%)
- Vehicles: $122.9 billion (10.5%)
- Mineral fuels including oil: $78.4 billion (6.7%)
- Pharmaceuticals: $65.8 billion (5.6%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $42.7 billion (3.6%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $42 billion (3.6%)
- Organic chemicals: $37.8 billion (3.2%)
- Gems, precious metals: $29.2 billion (2.5%)
- Iron, steel: $22 billion (1.9%)
Germany’s top 10 imports accounted for 63.1% of the overall value of its product purchases from other countries.
Two product categories increased in total spending from 2019 to 2020, namely gems and precious metals (up 42.9%) led by gold well ahead of the 12.4% gain for pharmaceuticals.
Leading the decliners year over year were imported mineral fuels including oil (down -28.1%), iron and steel (down -19.6%) and vehicles (down -10.3%).
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 2020, German importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of machines including computers.
- Computers, optical readers: US$27.2 billion (up 11.1% from 2019)
- Turbo-jets: $9.9 billion (down -30.2%)
- Printing machinery: $7.9 billion (down -2.8%)
- Centrifuges, filters and purifiers: $7.2 billion (up 2.2%)
- Taps, valves, similar appliances: $6.3 billion (down -9%)
- Computer parts, accessories: $5.6 billion (up 6%)
- Piston engine parts: $5.5 billion (down -18.2%)
- Miscellaneous machinery: $5.2 billion (down -5%)
- Transmission shafts, gears, clutches: $4.9 billion (down -13.9%)
- Air or vacuum pumps: $4.8 billion (down -5.8%)
Among these import subcategories, German purchases of computers including optical readers (up 11.1%), computer parts or accessories (up 6%) then centrifuges, filters and purifiers (up 2.2%) grew from 2019 to 2020.
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 2020, German importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of electrical equipment including consumer electronics.
- Phone system devices including smartphones: US$24.7 billion (up 7.9% from 2019)
- Integrated circuits/microassemblies: $13.1 billion (down -22.5%)
- Insulated wire/cable: $10 billion (down -6.4%)
- Electric storage batteries: $8 billion (up 44.9%)
- Electrical converters/power units: $7.7 billion (up 9.9%)
- Lower-voltage switches, fuses: $7.6 billion (down -6.5%)
- Electrical/optical circuit boards, panels: $7.1 billion (down -6.6%)
- Solar power diodes/semi-conductors: $6.2 billion (down -8.7%)
- TV receivers/monitors/projectors: $6 billion (up 1.5%)
- Electric motors, generators: $5.3 billion (down -6.3%)
Among these import subcategories, German purchases of electric storage batteries (up 44.9%), electrical converters or power units (up 9.9%) then phone system devices including smartphones (up 7.9%) grew at the fastest pace from 2019 to 2020.
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 2020, German importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of vehicles.
- Cars: US$65.2 billion (down -9.6% from 2019)
- Automobile parts/accessories: $32.8 billion (down -17.3%)
- Trucks: $6.7 billion (down -12.5%)
- Motorcycle parts/accessories: $2.7 billion (up 7.8%)
- Motorcycles: $2.5 billion (up 8.9%)
- Tractors: $2.5 billion (down -18.7%)
- Trailers: $2.3 billion (down -11%)
- Public-transport vehicles: $1.2 billion (up 17.3%)
- Special purpose vehicles: $794.1 million (down -3%)
- Bicycles, other non-motorized cycles: $789.7 million (down -1.2%)
Among these import subcategories, German purchases of public-transport vehicles (up 17.3%), motorcycles (up 8.9%) then motorcycle parts or accessories (up 7.8%) grew from 2019 to 2020.
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 2020, German importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of mineral fuels-related products.
- Crude oil: US$27.4 billion (down -32.7% from 2019)
- Petroleum gases: $24.3 billion (down -22.8%)
- Processed petroleum oils: $15 billion (down -38.7%)
- Coal, solid fuels made from coal: $2.8 billion (down -39.8%)
- Electrical energy: $2.3 billion (up 13.7%)
- Coal tar oils (high temperature distillation): $599.3 million (down -7.8%)
- Coke, semi-coke: $375.4 million (down -35.4%)
- Petroleum jelly, mineral waxes: $296.4 million (down -9%)
- Petroleum oil residues: $247.6 million (down -47.7%)
- Peat: $95.4 million (up 2.1%)
Among these import subcategories, German purchases of electrical energy (up 13.7%) and peat (up 2.1%) grew from 2019 to 2020.
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 February 22, 2021
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 February 22, 2021
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on February 22, 2021
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on February 22, 2021