Applying a continental lens, almost four-fifths (79.1%) of Portugal exports by value were delivered to fellow European countries while 6% were sold to North American importers.
Portugal shipped another 5.7% worth of goods to Africa. Smaller percentages also went to Asia (5.6%), Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean (2.1%) then Oceania led by Australia (0.3%).
Portugal’s Top Trading Partners
Below is a list showcasing 15 of Portugal’s top trading partners, countries that imported the most Portuguese shipments by dollar value during 2020. Also shown is each import country’s percentage of total Portuguese exports.
- Spain: US$15.7 billion (25.5% of total Portuguese exports)
- France: $8.3 billion (13.5%)
- Germany: $7.3 billion (11.8%)
- United Kingdom: $3.5 billion (5.7%)
- United States: $3.1 billion (5%)
- Italy: $2.7 billion (4.4%)
- Netherlands: $2.3 billion (3.7%)
- Belgium: $1.4 billion (2.3%)
- Angola: $994.3 million (1.6%)
- Poland: $835.7 million (1.4%)
- Brazil: $833.6 million (1.4%)
- Switzerland: $751.5 million (1.2%)
- Morocco: $723 million (1.2%)
- Sweden: $708.7 million (1.2%)
- China: $653.7 million (1.1%)
Roughly four-fifths (80.9%) of Portuguese exports in 2020 were delivered to the above 15 trade partners.
Switzerland (up 7.8%) and Sweden (up 6.5%) were the only top importers that increased purchases of Portugal’s exports from 2019 to 2020. Among the other top countries, declines ranged from a minimum of -0.4% for Brazil up to a -28.3% annual contraction for Angola.
Overall Portugal posted a trade deficit equaling -$16 billion for 2020, 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 2020)
- 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 2019 to 2020.
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.
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 2020)
- 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 2019 to 2020.
In addition, Portugal went from a -$109.9 million deficit in 2010 to post a $2.6 billion surplus for 2020.
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.
Companies Servicing Portuguese Trading Partners
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 Exports, Portugal’s Top 10 Imports and Capital Facts for Lisbon, Portugal
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook: Country Profiles. Accessed on March 1, 2021
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on March 1, 2021
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on March 1, 2021
Investopedia, Net Importer Definition. Accessed on March 1, 2021
Russian-Portuguese Business Club, Top 10 Portuguese companies – the largest exporters and importers. Accessed on March 1, 2021