Based on the average exchange rate for 2020, Greece 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 Greece’s exports paid for in weaker US dollars relatively more expensive for international buyers compared to 2019.
The latest available country-specific data shows that 59.9% of products exported from Greece were bought by importers in: Italy (10.6% of the global total), Germany (7.8%), Cyprus (6.5%), France (5.8%), Bulgaria (5%), Turkey (4.4%), United Kingdom (3.9%), Spain (3.7%), United States (3.7%), Romania (3.6%), China (2.8%) and the Netherlands (2.3%).
From a continental perspective, 69.5% of Greece exports by value were delivered to fellow European countries while 17.4% were sold to Asian importers. Greece shipped another 6.2% worth of goods to Africa. Smaller percentages went to North America (4.7%), Oceania led by Australia and Marshall Islands (1.1%) then Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean (1%).
Given Greece’s population of 10.7 million people, its total $35.1 billion in 2020 exports translates to roughly $3,300 for every resident in the southern European nation.
Greece’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Greek global shipments during 2020. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Greece.
- Mineral fuels including oil: US$7.7 billion (21.9% of total exports)
- Pharmaceuticals: $3.3 billion (9.4%)
- Machinery including computers: $2 billion (5.6%)
- Aluminum: $1.8 billion (5.3%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $1.4 billion (4%)
- Vegetable/fruit/nut preparations: $1.3 billion (3.8%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $1.3 billion (3.8%)
- Fruits, nuts: $1.3 billion (3.7%)
- Dairy, eggs, honey: $922.2 million (2.6%)
- Fish: $831.3 million (2.4%)
Greece’s top 10 exports accounted for 62.4% of the overall value of its global shipments.
Pharmaceuticals represent the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 52.1% since 2019. In second place for improving export sales was fruits and nuts which was up by 21%. Greece’s shipments of dairy, eggs and honey posted the third-fastest gain in value up by 18.9%.
The leading decliner among Greece’s top 10 export categories was mineral fuels including oil which fell -35.7% year over year.
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 Greece’s Most Valuable Export Products further down below.
The following types of Greek 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.
- Vegetable/fruit/nut preparations: US$1.1 billion (Up by 16.8% since 2019)
- Fruits, nuts: $874.3 million (Up by 33%)
- Aluminum: $829.5 million (Down by -4%)
- Fish: $412.6 million (Up by 84.9%)
- Cotton: $411.7 million (Down by -25.9%)
- Salt, sulphur, stone, cement: $394.7 million (Down by -24.3%)
- Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: $380.6 million (Up by 89.1%)
- Tobacco, manufactured substitutes: $305.6 million (Up by 50.7%)
- Articles of iron or steel: $152.5 million (Up by 172.6%)
- Stone, plaster, cement, asbestos: $140.3 million (Down by -10.4%)
Greece has highly positive net exports in the international trade of vegetable, fruit or nut preparations. In turn, these cashflows indicate Greece’s strong competitive advantages under the food preparations product category.
Overall Greece incurred a -$20.4 billion trade deficit during 2020, a -16% decrease from the -$24.3 billion in red ink for 2019.
Below are exports from Greece that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Greece’s goods trail Greek importer spending on foreign products.
- Mineral fuels including oil: -US$3.3 billion (Down by -30.1% since 2019)
- Organic chemicals: -$3.2 billion (Up by 56.3%)
- Machinery including computers: -$2.5 billion (Up by 2.6%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$2.4 billion (Up by 9.5%)
- Vehicles : -$2.4 billion (Down by -9.4%)
- Meat: -$1.1 billion (Down by -11.5%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: -$849.7 million (Up by 15.4%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$813.8 million (Up by 7.5%)
- Paper, paper items: -$727.7 million (Down by -8.9%)
- Iron, steel: -$565.1 million (Down by -12.4%)
Greece has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits under the mineral fuels including oil subcategory, notably for crude petroleum oil.
These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate Greece’s competitive disadvantages in the international mineral fuels market, but also represent key opportunities for Greece to improve its position in the global economy through focused innovations in alternative energy resources.
Greek Export Companies
Based on Forbes Global 2000 rankings, here are examples of large international trade players headquartered in Greece.
- Hellenic Petroleum (refined oil, gas)
- Hellenic Telecom Organization (telecommunications)
- Motor Oil Hellas (oil, gas)
Global trade intelligence firm Zepol also mentions the following companies as examples of Greek exporters.
- Inomessiniak (wine, olive oil)
- Interoliva (olives, glass bottles and jars)
- Promelk (t-shirts, brassieres, sweaters)
- St Agelopoulo (olives, live carp)
- Tsalma Marble Of Central North Greece (monument/building stone, wood boxes/cases/crates)
Searchable List of Greece’s Most Valuable Export Products
The following searchable table displays 100 of the most in-demand goods shipped from Greece during 2020. Shown beside each product label is its total export value then the percentage increase or decrease since 2019.
|Rank||Greece's Export Product||2020 Value (US$)||Change|
|1||Processed petroleum oils||$6,949,099,000||-37.1%|
|2||Medication mixes in dosage||$3,188,794,000||+54.2%|
|3||Computers, optical readers||$691,405,000||-8.6%|
|4||Aluminum plates, sheets, strips||$669,005,000||-6.5%|
|5||Whole fish (fresh)||$641,500,000||+10.4%|
|6||Other prepared/preserved vegetables (non-frozen)||$602,750,000||+7.3%|
|9||Copper tubes, pipes||$525,503,000||+2.2%|
|10||Cotton (uncarded, uncombed)||$454,037,000||-22.9%|
|11||Miscellaneous preserved fruits||$446,098,000||+18.6%|
|13||Petroleum oil residues||$399,447,000||-7.9%|
|14||Aluminum foil (thin)||$366,107,000||+1.3%|
|16||Other food preparations||$314,382,000||+15.4%|
|17||Miscellaneous fruits (fresh)||$296,064,000||+22.2%|
|18||Iron and steel tubes, pipes||$290,641,000||+39%|
|19||Fresh or dried citrus fruit||$275,657,000||+34.8%|
|21||Models, puzzles, miscellaneous toys||$251,267,000||+4.4%|
|22||Buttermilk, cream, yogurt||$238,143,000||+20.7%|
|24||Phone system devices including smartphones||$224,560,000||+19.4%|
|25||Apricots, cherries, peaches, nectarines, plums||$222,219,000||+42%|
|27||Buttermilk, cream, yogurt||$218,382,000||-0.5%|
|29||Plastic plates, sheets, film, tape, strips||$204,723,000||+11.8%|
|32||Unmanufactured tobacco, tobacco waste||$184,065,000||+15%|
|34||Beauty/makeup/skin care preparations||$180,372,000||+3.2%|
|35||Electric storage batteries||$172,839,000||-0.1%|
|36||Centrifuges, filters and purifiers||$165,018,000||+4.5%|
|38||Monument/building stones, art||$154,965,000||-11.9%|
|39||Plastic packing goods, lids, caps||$154,957,000||+2.9%|
|40||Grapes (fresh or dried)||$153,778,000||+1.9%|
|42||Flour/meal/starch/malt extract food preparations||$147,001,000||+30.6%|
|43||Piston engine parts||$142,896,000||+0.003%|
|44||Bread, biscuits, cakes, pastries||$139,307,000||+3.5%|
|45||Iron or non-alloy steel bars, rods||$136,942,000||-19.9%|
|47||Plastic plates, sheets, film, tape, strips||$132,694,000||+11.9%|
|48||Other organic cleaning preparations||$129,416,000||+15.6%|
|49||Miscellaneous iron and steel structures||$128,582,000||+1.9%|
|50||Plastic tableware, kitchenware, toiletry||$125,462,000||+14.1%|
|51||Sanitary towels, baby napkins/liners||$122,350,000||+9.5%|
|52||Cruise/cargo ships, barges||$121,591,000||+227.4%|
|53||Miscellaneous iron or steel tubes, pipes||$116,058,000||+20.8%|
|54||Women's clothing (knit or crochet)||$115,732,000||-26.9%|
|55||Vinegar prepared/preserved vegetables, fruit or nuts||$111,513,000||-3%|
|57||Knitted/crocheted women's blouses, shirts||$109,908,000||-7.2%|
|58||Paint/varnish non-aqueous solution||$108,314,000||+10.6%|
|60||Precious metal ores, concentrates||$92,814,000||+76.6%|
|62||Alcohol (including spirits, liqueurs)||$89,950,000||+6.3%|
|63||Footwear (rubber or plastic)||$88,243,000||-34%|
|65||Unrecorded sound media||$82,497,000||+40.6%|
|72||Lower-voltage switches, fuses||$76,123,000||+34.8%|
|73||Electro-medical equip (e.g. xrays)||$75,664,000||+12.3%|
|75||Miscellaneous fresh/chilled vegetables||$74,912,000||+24%|
|76||Chemical industry products/residuals||$73,859,000||+5%|
|79||Synthetic organic coloring||$71,253,000||+10.1%|
|80||Other than warp-knit fabrics||$70,000,000||-5.8%|
|81||T-shirts, vests (knit or crochet)||$69,552,000||-17.3%|
|82||Dried, salted, smoked fish||$69,223,000||+7%|
|84||Plastic tubes, pipes, fittings||$67,864,000||+4%|
|86||Carbon/natural mineral products||$67,450,000||-15.6%|
|87||Spray/dispersing mechanical appliances||$66,960,000||+9.4%|
|88||Melons, watermelons, papayas||$66,549,000||+3.8%|
|90||Miscellaneous animal feed preparations||$65,335,000||+28.5%|
|91||Copper waste, scrap||$63,675,000||-10%|
|93||Bridge structures, parts||$63,343,000||-7%|
|95||Organic surface-active products, soap||$62,463,000||+50.9%|
|96||Lamps, lighting, illuminated signs||$62,260,000||-0.9%|
|97||Self-adhesive plastic in rolls||$61,832,000||+0.7%|
|100||Synthetic yarn woven fabrics||$60,284,000||-34.8%|
These 100 exported goods were worth a subtotal of US$27.2 billion or 77.6% by value for all products exported from Greece during 2020.
In macroeconomic terms, Greece’s total exported goods represent 11.3% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2020 ($310.7 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 11.3% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2020 compares to 11.7% one year earlier. This suggests a relatively decreasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Greece’s total economic performance, albeit based on a very short timeframe.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Greece’s unemployment rate was 19.3% in November 2020, compared to an average 17.802% for 2019 according to the International Monetary Fund.
Greece’s capital city is Athens.
See also Greece’s Top 10 Imports, Greece’s Top Trading Partners and Top EU Export Countries
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook: Country Profiles. Accessed on March 3, 2021
Forbes 2016 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on March 3, 2021
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on June 29, 2020
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on March 3, 2021
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on March 3, 2021
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on March 3, 2021
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Greece. Accessed on March 3, 2021
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on March 3, 2021
Zepol’s company summary highlights by country. Accessed on March 3, 2021