The 5 leading countries buying goods exported from Portugal are Spain, France, Germany, the United States of America and United Kingdom. Collectively, that cohort of main import partners accounted for over three-fifths (61.7%) of Portugal’s total exports by value during 2021.
Applying a continental lens, 79.8% of Portugal exports by value were delivered to fellow European countries while 6.7% were sold to importers in North America. Portugal shipped 5.7% worth of goods to Africa with another 5.4% arriving in Asia.
Smaller percentages were destined for Latin America (2%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean and Oceania (0.4%) led by Australia.
Portugal’s Top Trading Partners
Below is a list showcasing 25 of Portugal’s top trading partners, countries that imported the most Portuguese shipments by dollar value during 2021. Also shown is each import country’s percentage of total Portuguese exports.
- Spain: US$20.1 billion (26.7% of total Portuguese exports)
- France: $9.9 billion (13.1%)
- Germany: $8.3 billion (11%)
- United States: $4.2 billion (5.6%)
- United Kingdom: $3.9 billion (5.2%)
- Italy: $3.4 billion (4.5%)
- Netherlands: $2.9 billion (3.9%)
- Belgium: $1.9 billion (2.5%)
- Angola: $1.12 billion (1.5%)
- Poland: $1.08 billion (1.4%)
- Morocco: $1 billion (1.4%)
- Sweden: $882.2 million (1.2%)
- Brazil: $838.8 million (1.1%)
- China: $812.0 million (1.1%)
- Switzerland: $753.0 million (1%)
- Turkey: $730.6 million (1%)
- Denmark: $603 million (0.8%)
- Czech Republic: $570.8 million (0.8%)
- Romania: $520 million (0.7%)
- Finland: $512.3 million (0.7%)
- Ireland: $493.3 million (0.7%)
- Gibraltar: $486.8 million (0.6%)
- Slovakia: $455.8 million (0.6%)
- Hungary: $447.6 million (0.6%)
- Austria: $432.4 million (0.6%)
Almost nine-tenths (88.3%) of Portuguese exports in 2021 were delivered to the above 25 trade partners.
Among the top importers that increased purchases of Portugal’s exports from 2020 to 2021, the fastest grower was Gibraltar via a 128% gain. In second place was Finland (up 60.9%) trailed by Morocco (up 43.9%), United States of America (up 37.3%) and Belgium (up 34.7%).
There was a trio of year-over-year decliners namely Ireland (down -11.9%), Austria (down -4.4%) and Romania (down -4.2%).
Countries Causing the Highest Trade Deficits for Portugal
Overall Portugal posted a trade deficit equaling -$16 billion for 2021, down -28.8% from -$22.5 billion in red ink one year earlier.
As defined by Investopedia, a country whose total value of all imported goods is higher than its value of all exports is said to have a negative trade balance or deficit.
It would be unrealistic for any exporting nation to expect across-the-board positive trade balances with all its importing partners. Similarly, that export country doesn’t necessarily post a negative trade balance with each individual partner with which it exchanges exports and imports.
Portugal incurred the highest trade deficits with the following countries.
- Spain: -US$9.6 billion (country-specific trade deficit in 2021)
- Germany: -$3.1 billion
- China: -$2.8 billion
- Netherlands: -$2 billion
- Italy: -$1.4 billion
- Nigeria: -$1.2 billion
- Brazil: -$1 billion
- Belgium: -$806.6 million
- India: -$608.8 million
- Poland: -$435.8 million
Among Portugal’s trading partners that cause the greatest negative trade balances, Portuguese deficits with Brazil (up 234.6%), Poland (up 66.5%) and Nigeria (up 14.9%) grew at the fastest pace from 2020 to 2021.
These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate Portugal’s competitive disadvantages with the above countries, but also represent key opportunities for Portugal to develop country-specific strategies to strengthen its overall position in international trade.
Countries Generating the Greatest Trade Surpluses for Portugal
Based on Investopedia’s definition of net importer, a country whose total value of all imported goods is lower than its value of all exports is said to have a positive trade balance or surplus.
Portugal incurred the highest trade surpluses with the following countries:
- France: US$2.6 billion (country-specific trade surplus in 2021)
- United States: $1.6 billion
- United Kingdom: $1.4 billion
- Angola: $558.7 million
- Morocco: $513.8 million
- Switzerland: $380.9 million
- Cabo Verde: $335.5 million
- Romania: $275.8 million
- Israel: $231.4 million
- Mexico: $221 million
Among Portugal’s trading partners that generate the greatest positive trade balances, Portuguese surpluses with Canada (up 211.7%), Mexico (up 25.6%) and Slovakia (up 13.8%) grew at the fastest percentage pace from 2020 to 2021.
In addition, Portugal went from a -$109.9 million deficit in 2010 to post a $2.6 billion surplus for 2021.
These positive cashflow streams clearly indicate Portugal’s competitive advantages with the above countries, but also represent key opportunities for Portugal to develop country-specific strategies to optimize its overall position in international trade.
Major Portuguese Export Companies
According to Forbes Global 2000 rankings, the following companies are examples of leading Portuguese companies.
- Banco Comercial Portugues (regional banks)
- EDP-Energias de Portugal (electric utilities)
- Galp Energia (oil, gas)
- Jeronimo Martins (food retailer)
- Portugal Telecom (telecommunications services)
The Russian-Portuguese Business Club lists Portugal’s biggest employers involved in international trade.
- Delphi Automotive (automotive parts)
- Petrogal (oil, gas)
- Philip Morris International (tobacco)
- Portucel Soporcel (paper)
- Volkswagen Autoeuropa (automobiles)
See also Portugal’s Top 10 Imports, Portugal’s Top 10 Exports, France’s Top Trading Partners, France’s Top 10 Exports
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook: Country Profiles. Accessed on March 28, 2022
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on March 28, 2022
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on March 28, 2022
Investopedia, Net Importer Definition. Accessed on March 28, 2022
Russian-Portuguese Business Club, Top 10 Portuguese companies – the largest exporters and importers. Accessed on March 28, 2022