The technical equipment and technology behind critical land surveys define the legal boundaries for their real estate properties. Yet history shows that many landowners have endured prolonged court battles and even intergenerational blood feuds over property lines. Land disputes can arise issues as mundane as misplaced fencing.
Contested property battles are a key reason why surveying demands precise spatial measurements that must stand up in court.
Among continents, suppliers in European countries sold the highest dollar worth of exported surveying equipment during 2019 with shipments valued at $4.3 billion or 44.9% of the global total. In second place were Asian equipment suppliers at 27.5% compared to 24.9% for competitors in North America. Smaller percentages came from Oceania (1.7%) mostly Australia, Africa (0.7%) then Latin America (0.3%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean.
For research purposes, the 4-digit Harmonized Tariff System code prefix is 9015 for surveying equipment, including products used for photogrammetrical surveying, hydrographic, oceanographic, hydrological and meteorological purposes.
Top Surveying Equipment Exporters by Country
Below are the 15 countries that exported the highest dollar value worth of survey equipment during 2019.
- United States: US$1.8 billion (19% of exported survey equipment)
- Germany: $958.9 million (9.9%)
- China: $911.3 million (9.4%)
- United Kingdom: $699.1 million (7.2%)
- Singapore: $658 million (6.8%)
- France: $596.2 million (6.2%)
- Canada: $529.8 million (5.5%)
- Switzerland: $438.8 million (4.5%)
- Norway: $396.4 million (4.1%)
- Netherlands: $336.2 million (3.5%)
- Hong Kong: $324.3 million (3.4%)
- Japan: $180.2 million (1.9%)
- Austria: $170.1 million (1.8%)
- Australia: $157.8 million (1.6%)
- Malaysia: $142.3 million (1.5%)
By value, the listed 15 countries shipped 86.3% of globally exported survey equipment in 2019.
Among the top exporters, the fastest-growing exporters of survey equipment since 2015 were: Austria (up 64.9%), France (up 57.1%), Netherlands (up 48.5%) and Germany (up 37.9%).
Those countries that posted declines in their international sales of survey equipment were led by: Malaysia (down -45.9%), United Kingdom (down -18.2%), Norway (down -14.5%), United States (down -7.5%) and Hong Kong (down -6.6%).
The following countries posted the highest positive net exports for surveying equipment during 2019. 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 survey equipment and its import purchases for that same commodity.
- Germany: US$461.8 million (net export surplus up 86.2% since 2015)
- United States: $415.2 million (down -46.2%)
- France: $324.3 million (up 92.9%)
- United Kingdom: $319.6 million (up 11.9%)
- Canada: $276.7 million (up 30.7%)
- Switzerland: $272.3 million (up 40%)
- Singapore: $135.8 million (up 206.8%)
- Netherlands: $109.7 million (up 54.6%)
- Finland: $105.2 million (up 1.2%)
- Austria: $79.6 million (up 148.7%)
- Norway: $76 million (reversing a -$100.6 million deficit)
- Hong Kong: $71.5 million (down -40.4%)
- Denmark: $58.1 million (up 407.8%)
- Malaysia: $40.2 million (up 192.8%)
- Sweden: $36.2 million (up 166.4%)
Overtaking the United States of America in 2019, Germany generated the highest surplus in the international trade of survey equipment. In turn, this positive cashflow confirms Germany’s strong competitive advantage for this specific product category.
The following countries posted the highest negative net exports for surveying equipment during 2019. 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 survey equipment purchases and its exports for that same commodity.
- United Arab Emirates: -US$426.5 million (net export deficit up 240.4% since 2015)
- Saudi Arabia: -$379.1 million (up 111.4%)
- Egypt: -$149.4 million (up 1125.8%)
- Russia: -$146.4 million (down -8.7%)
- Japan: -$133.7 million (up 147.3%)
- Australia: -$118.8 million (up 21%)
- South Korea: -$117.3 million (up 15.3%)
- Brunei Darussalam: -$94.9 million (reversing a $6.4 million surplus)
- India: -$85.8 million (up 34.4%)
- Nigeria: -$78.7 million (up 149.8%)
- Brazil: -$69.5 million (up 46.5%)
- Vietnam: -$64.8 million (up 179.6%)
- Algeria: -$64.1 million (up 65.2%)
- Indonesia: -$59.2 million (up 12.7%)
- Turkey: -$46.8 million (down -13.8%)
The United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia incurred the highest deficits in the international trade of surveying equipment. In turn, this negative cashflow highlights the UAE’s and Saudi’s strong competitive disadvantages for this specific product category but also signals opportunities for survey equipment-supplying countries that help satisfy the powerful demand.
Survey Equipment Companies
Below are global survey equipment-processing conglomerates that represent established players that sell geospatial measurement apparatus and supporting materials internationally. Shown within parenthesis is the home country for each business.
The top two businesses, Bechtel and Larson Design Group, were reported on Point of Beginning’s list of top 100 geospatial companies.
- Bechtel (United States)
- Larson Design Group (United States)
- Geo Industries Co Ltd (China)
- Imajing (France)
- Robert Bosch GmbH (Germany)
- Sun Survey Systems (India)
- Leica Geosystems (Switzerland)
- Bathey Survey Markers, Inc (United Kingdom)
- Datum Survey Products Ltd (United Kingdom)
- Renishaw (United Kingdom)
- Dunham & Morrow Inc (United States)
- SECO (United States)
According to global trading platform Alibaba, the following firms are examples of surveying equipment providers. The home-country location for each business is shown within parentheses.
- Shanghai Huace Navigation Technology Ltd (China)
- STS Corporation (Japan)
- EIE Instruments Private Limited (India)
- Zhangfuying Inc (Hong Kong)
- International Surveying Equipment Ltd (United States)
- Surveying Systems (Pakistan)
See also Top Industrial Robots Exporters, Electronic Circuit Components Exports by Country and Heart Pacemaker Export Sales by Country
Alibaba, Supplier showroom for survey equipment. Accessed on June 10, 2020
dmoz directory, Land Surveying Equipment Manufacturers. Accessed on June 10, 2020
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on June 10, 2020
Point of Beginning, 2016 POB Top 100 Geospatial Companies. Accessed on June 10, 2020
The World Factbook, Field Listing: Exports – Commodities, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on June 10, 2020
Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on June 10, 2020
Wikipedia, List of surveying instruments. Accessed on June 10, 2020