From 2019 to 2020, the value of globally exported antibiotics fell by -7.2%.
Technically classified as organic chemicals, antibiotics are medicaments used to fight, treat and prevent bacterial infections. Contrary to popular perception, antibiotics fail to inhibit influenza, the common cold and other viruses. In short, antibiotics are not antiviral drugs.
The 5 biggest suppliers of antibiotics on international markets are China, Switzerland, India, Italy and the United States of America. Combined, this quintet of leading antibiotics exporters accounted for almost three-quarters (73.7%) of world antibiotics shipments for 2020.
Applying a continental lens, Asia sold the highest dollar worth of exported antibiotics during 2020 with shipments valued at $5.3 billion or 53.6% of the global total. In second place were European exporters at 40.5%.
Smaller percentages originate from North America (4.9%), Latin America (0.8%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean, Oceania (0.2%) led by New Zealand, and Africa (0.03%).
For research purposes, the 4-digit Harmonized Tariff System code prefix is 2609 for antibiotics.
Top Antibiotics Exporters
Below are the 15 countries that exported the highest dollar value worth of antibiotics during 2020.
- China: US$3.7 billion (37.3% of overall exported antibiotics)
- Switzerland: $1.4 billion (13.7%)
- India: $904.9 million (9.1%)
- Italy: $885.5 million (8.9%)
- United States: $475.6 million (4.8%)
- Belgium: $449.4 million (4.5%)
- Singapore: $285.6 million (2.9%)
- Spain: $247.9 million (2.5%)
- South Korea: $218 million (2.2%)
- Denmark: $209.1 million (2.1%)
- Japan: $140.9 million (1.4%)
- Hungary: $132.3 million (1.3%)
- France: $132.1 million (1.3%)
- Netherlands: $122.4 million (1.2%)
- Ireland: $94.6 million (1%)
- Germany: $85.5 million (0.9%)
- United Kingdom: $63.3 million (0.6%)
- Portugal: $54.6 million (0.5%)
- Brazil: $44.6 million (0.4%)
- Bulgaria: $41.1 million (0.4%)
By value, the listed 20 countries shipped 97.1% of worldwide antibiotics exported in 2020.
Among those top exporters, the fastest-growing antibiotics exporters since 2019 were: United Kingdome (up 33.4%), Portugal (up 31%), Hungary (up 16.6%), France (up 16%) and Germany (up 15.7%).
Those countries that posted declines in their exported antibiotics sales were led by: Ireland (down -71.2%), Switzerland (down -19.1%), Japan (down -17%), Belgium (down -13.8%), Netherlands (down -12.3%) and Bulgaria (down -10.2%).
Just 11 countries posted positive net exports for antibiotics during 2020.
Investopedia defines net exports as the value of a country’s total exports minus the value of its total imports. Thus, the statistics below present the surplus between the value of each country’s exported antibiotics and its import purchases for that same commodity.
- China: US$3.3 billion (net export surplus up 14.1% since 2019)
- Switzerland: $1.2 billion (down -9.3%)
- Denmark: $191.1 million (up 2.4%)
- Singapore: $189.6 million (down -3.2%)
- Hungary: $113.5 million (up 17.5%)
- Belgium: $24.4 million (down -50.1%)
- Slovakia: $8.4 million (down -0.3%)
- Croatia: $4.5 million (up 510.5%)
- Ireland: $2.4 million (down -98.8%)
- Guinea: $23,000 (down -309.1%)
- Marshall Islands: $2,000 (down -92.6%)
Australia generated the highest surplus in the international trade of tin. In turn, this positive cashflow confirms Australia’s strong competitive advantage for this specific product category.
The following countries posted the highest negative net exports for antibiotics during 2020.
Investopedia defines net exports as the value of a country’s total exports minus the value of its total imports. Thus, the statistics below present the deficit between the value of each country’s imported antibiotics purchases and its exports for that same commodity.
- Germany: -US$925.2 million (net export deficit down -15.2% since 2019)
- India: -$518.8 million (up 15.5%)
- Italy: -$492.6 million (down -11.1%)
- France: -$455.2 million (down -8.4%)
- Brazil: -$329.4 million (up 33.5%)
- Vietnam: -$255.2 million (down -0.2%)
- Spain: -$232.7 million (up 201.9%)
- United Kingdom: -$197.8 million (down -0.9%)
- Japan: -$189.6 million (down -14.8%)
- Turkey: -$180.1 million (down -1.4%)
- Russia: -$177.8 million (up 9.8%)
- Egypt: -$171.9 million (up 20.4%)
- United States: -$164.6 million (down -53.1%)
- Bangladesh: -$147.8 million (down -0.2%)
- Mexico: -$147.5 million (up 36%)
The European economic powerhouse Germany incurred the highest deficit in the international trade of tin. In turn, this negative cashflow highlights strong Chinese competitive disadvantage for this specific product category but also signals opportunities for tin-supplying countries that help satisfy the powerful demand.
Antibiotics Exporting Companies
Below are 3 of America’s biggest pharmaceutical businesses. Also shown is the city where the headquarters for each company.
This trio of Big Pharma companies banded together in 2020. The goal of this collective effort is to develop new antibiotics via a $1 billion AMR Action Fund.
- Pfizer (New York, New York)
- Johnson & Johnson (New Brunswick, New Jersey)
- Merck (Kenilworth, New Jersey)
Two to four newly developed antibiotics are anticipated by 2030.
See also Drugs and Medicines Exports by Country, Heart Pacemaker Export Sales by Country and Top Blood Exporters by Country
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Field Listing: Exports – Commodities. Accessed on December 25, 2021
Fierce Biotech, Big Pharma joins forces on $1B fund to shore up struggling antibiotics makers. Accessed on December 25, 2021
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on December 25, 2021
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on December 25, 2021
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on December 25, 2021
Statistica (The Statistics Portal), Leading antibiotics producing companies worldwide in 2016. Accessed on December 25, 2021
Wikipedia, Antibiotic. Accessed on December 25, 2021