The world’s third-largest exporter, Germany shipped US$1.339 trillion worth of products around the globe in 2016. That figure represents roughly 8.2% of overall global exports estimated at $16.236 trillion one year earlier in 2015.
From a continental perspective, 65.6% of German exports by value are delivered to other European countries while 18.5% are sold to Asian importers. Germany ships another 10.6% worth to North America with 2% worth going to clients in Africa.
Top Trade Partner Countries in Germany
Below is a list showcasing 15 of Germany’s top trading partners. That is countries that imported the most German shipments by dollar value during 2016. Also shown is each import country’s percentage of total German exports.
- United States: US$118.8 billion (8.9% of total German exports)
- France: $112.2 billion (8.4%)
- United Kingdom: $95.1 billion (7.1%)
- China: $85.3 billion (6.4%)
- Netherlands: $83.6 billion (6.2%)
- Italy: $67.9 billion (5.1%)
- Austria: $65.5 billion (4.9%)
- Poland: $60.6 billion (4.5%)
- Switzerland: $56 billion (4.2%)
- Belgium: $46.1 billion (3.4%)
- Spain: $45 billion (3.4%)
- Czech Republic: $42.2 billion (3.2%)
- Sweden: $27.7 billion (2.1%)
- Hungary: $25.2 billion (1.9%)
- Turkey: $24.7 billion (1.8%)
Almost three-quarters (71.4%) of German exports in 2016 were delivered to the above 15 trade partners.
Via a 67% gain, China posted the fastest growth among the top importers from Germany.
In second place was the United States (up 58.4%). Close behind was Turkey (up 53.2%) and Hungary (up 51.5%).
Leading the cutbacks in import purchases from Germany was Belgium (down -21.5%) followed by Italy (down -4.6%), Austria (down -2.5%) and France (down -1.8%).
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.
Germany incurred the highest trade deficits with the following countries:
- Netherlands: -US$50.9 billion (country-specific trade deficit in 2016)
- Belgium: -$16.1 billion
- Czech Republic: -$7.6 billion
- Vietnam: -$5 billion
- Ireland: -$4.7 billion
- Bangladesh: -$3.2 billion
- Slovakia: -$2.8 billion
- Hungary: -$2.2 billion
- Kazakhstan: -$1.9 billion
- Azerbaijan: -$1.4 billion
Among Germany’s trading partners that cause the greatest negative trade balances, German deficits with the Netherlands (up 816.6%), Slovakia (up 211.8%), Vietnam (up 210.7%) and the Czech Republic (up 143.6%) grew at the fastest pace from 2009 to 2016.
These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate Germany’s competitive disadvantages with the above countries, but also represent key opportunities for Germany to develop country-specific strategies to strengthen its overall position in international trade.
Based on Investopedia’s definition of the 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. Overall, Germany earned a $284.4 billion trade surplus in 2016.
Germany incurred the highest trade surpluses with the following countries:
- United States: US$70.8 billion (country-specific trade surplus in 2016)
- United Kingdom: $52.3 billion
- France: $34.9 billion
- Austria: $20.1 billion
- United Arab Emirates: $15.2 billion
- Spain: $14.3 billion
- South Korea: $12.2 billion
- Sweden: $11.6 billion
- Italy: $10.3 billion
- Turkey: $9.9 billion
Among Germany’s trading partners that cause the greatest positive trade balances, German surpluses with South Korea (up 2,617%), United States (up 260.3%), Turkey (up 114.7%) and United Arab Emirates (up 92.5%) represent the fastest-growing surpluses from 2009 to 2016.
These positive cash flow streams clearly indicate Germany’s competitive advantages with the above countries, but also represent key opportunities for Germany to develop country-specific strategies to optimize its overall position in international trade.
German Companies Servicing Trading Partners
Fifty-two German corporations rank among Forbes Global 2000 for 2015. Below is a sample of major German export companies:
- Volkswagen Group (cars, trucks)
- Allianz (diversified insurance)
- Daimler (cars, trucks)
- BMW Group (cars, trucks)
- Siemens (conglomerate, engineering)
- BASF (diversified chemicals)
- Bayer (diversified chemicals)
- Continental (automotive parts)
- Linde (diversified chemicals)
- Fresenius (medical equipment, supplies)
- Henkel (household/personal care items)
- Merck (pharmaceuticals)
- Heidelberg Cement (construction materials)
- Adidas (apparel/accessories)
According to IMPORTERS.com listings for German suppliers, the following are examples of companies that ship products from Germany to its trading partners around the globe. Shown in parenthesis are products that the German business provides.
- Euro Car Export Ltd (vehicles)
- Kgz Ersatzteile (diesel fuel lift pumps)
- Originals GmbH & Co. KG (engines, electrical parts)
- Flaskamp GmbH (liquid soap, washing powder)
- Kareva Marketing GmbH (calcium chloride, other drilling chemicals)
- Tieing Industrial Group (industrial adhesives)
- Weser Apotheke (pharmaceuticals)
- 7Trade (mobile phones)
- IMarketing Skirde Ltd (sports bags, garments)
- Merbstrade (crude oil)
The World Factbook, Field Listing: Imports – Commodities, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on March 22, 2017
Trade Map, International Trade Centre, www.intracen.org/marketanalysis. Accessed on March 22, 2017
Investopedia, Net Importer Definition. Accessed on March 22, 2017
Forbes 2015 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on March 22, 2017
IMPORTERS.com The Online Market for G20 Importers, Germany Import Export Directory. Accessed on March 22, 2017