Germany flag Germany: Economic and Political Overview

Foreign trade figures of Germany

Foreign Trade in Figures

Trade represents 81% of Germany’s GDP (World Bank 2020, down from 87.6% one year earlier), and the country is both the world’s third-largest importer and exporter. The country is by far the world’s largest exporter of automobiles (19.3% of total exported cars worldwide). In 2020, the four largest groups of exported goods made up almost half of the country’s exports: vehicles and vehicle parts (15.5%), machinery (14.5%), chemical products (9.3%) and computer/electrical and optical equipment (9.1%). The main imported goods were computer/electrical and optical equipment (11.2%), vehicles and vehicle parts (10.8%), chemical products (7.8%), machinery (7.7%), electrical equipment (6.5%) and pharmaceuticals and similar products (6.3% - BMWi).

Germany’s primary trade partner is the European Union which accounted for 67.1% of exports and 65.3% of imports (BMWi). Accounting for 8.6% of German exports, the U.S. remained Germany’s most important export market in 2020, followed closely by China (8%), France (7.5%) and the Netherlands (6.4%). Imports came chiefly from China (11.4%), ahead of the Netherlands and the U.S. (7.7% and 6.7%, respectively). Germany continues to be the “most open” economy of the G7 countries.

Germany’s surplus from trade in goods in 2020 contrasted with a deficit from trade in services: the country exported goods worth USD 1.380 billion (a decrease of 7.3% year-on-year), importing a total of USD 1.170 billion (-5.1% - WTO). Germany is a net importer of commercial services: in 2020, the country exported USD 305 billion worth of services, while imports were slightly higher, at USD 307 billion.
However, the country’s trade balance is structurally positive: in 2020, Germany’s current account surplus declined again, falling to 7% of GDP, but remained the highest ratio in the world (second in nominal terms, after China). In regards to Germany’s vast trade surplus, since 2014 the European Commission has encouraged the country to favour internal demand dynamics instead of exports, in order to mitigate the existing “macroeconomic imbalance” in the EU (as per the Commission rules, EU countries should not have an external trade surplus of more than 6% of their GDP).

 
Foreign Trade Values 20162017201820192020
Imports of Goods (million USD) 1,054,8911,162,9071,284,3531,233,9781,170,441
Exports of Goods (million USD) 1,339,6471,448,1911,560,5391,489,4121,380,647
Imports of Services (million USD) 312,074329,246371,207369,368307,130
Exports of Services (million USD) 272,738303,366344,033341,078305,169

Source: World Trade Organisation (WTO) ; Latest available data

Foreign Trade Indicators 20162017201820192020
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 84.887.288.487.681.1
Trade Balance (million USD) 279,768288,053266,362242,479217,296
Trade Balance (Including Service) (million USD) 256,402260,592245,933219,470219,099
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 4.55.23.92.9-8.6
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 2.54.92.31.1-9.3
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 38.740.141.141.037.7
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 46.147.247.346.643.4

Source: World Bank ; Latest available data

Foreign Trade Forecasts 20212022 (e)2023 (e)2024 (e)2025 (e)
Volume of exports of goods and services (Annual % change) 9.45.94.33.63.0
Volume of imports of goods and services (Annual % change) 8.66.94.03.73.4

Source: IMF, World Economic Outlook ; Latest available data

Note: (e) Estimated Data

 
International Economic Cooperation
Germany is a member of the following international economic organisations:  ICC, European Union, WTO, European Economic Area, G-6, G-7, G-8, G-10, G-20, IMF, OECD, among others. For the full list of economic and other international organisations in which participates Germany click here. International organisation membership of Germany is also outlined here.
Free Trade Agreements
The complete and up-to-date list of Free Trade Agreements signed by Germany can be consulted here.
 

Main Partner Countries

Main Customers
(% of Exports)
2020
United States 8.6%
China 8.0%
France 7.5%
Netherlands 6.4%
United Kingdom 5.5%
See More Countries 64.0%
Main Suppliers
(% of Imports)
2020
China 11.5%
Netherlands 7.5%
United States 6.7%
Poland 5.7%
France 5.5%
See More Countries 63.1%

Source: Comtrade, 2022. Because of rounding, the sum of the percentages may be smaller/greater than 100%.

 
 

Main Products

1,385.9 bn USD of products exported in 2020
Motor cars and other motor vehicles principally...Motor cars and other motor vehicles principally designed for the transport of persons, incl. station wagons and racing cars (excl. motor vehicles of heading 8702) 8.9%
Medicaments consisting of mixed or unmixed...Medicaments consisting of mixed or unmixed products for therapeutic or prophylactic uses, put up in measured doses incl. those in the form of transdermal administration or in forms or packings for retail sale (excl. goods of heading 3002, 3005 or 3006) 4.4%
Parts and accessories for tractors, motor vehicles...Parts and accessories for tractors, motor vehicles for the transport of ten or more persons, motor cars and other motor vehicles principally designed for the transport of persons, motor vehicles for the transport of goods and special purpose motor vehicles of heading 8701 to 8705, n.e.s. 3.9%
Human blood; animal blood prepared for therapeutic...Human blood; animal blood prepared for therapeutic, prophylactic or diagnostic uses; antisera and other blood fractions and modified immunological products, whether or not obtained by means of biotechnological processes; vaccines, toxins, cultures of micro-organisms (excl. yeasts) and similar products 2.4%
Powered aircraft e.g. helicopters and aeroplanes;...Powered aircraft e.g. helicopters and aeroplanes; spacecraft, incl. satellites, and suborbital and spacecraft launch vehicles 1.5%
See More Products 78.9%
1,173.2 bn USD of products imported in 2020
Motor cars and other motor vehicles principally...Motor cars and other motor vehicles principally designed for the transport of persons, incl. station wagons and racing cars (excl. motor vehicles of heading 8702) 5.6%
Parts and accessories for tractors, motor vehicles...Parts and accessories for tractors, motor vehicles for the transport of ten or more persons, motor cars and other motor vehicles principally designed for the transport of persons, motor vehicles for the transport of goods and special purpose motor vehicles of heading 8701 to 8705, n.e.s. 2.9%
Medicaments consisting of mixed or unmixed...Medicaments consisting of mixed or unmixed products for therapeutic or prophylactic uses, put up in measured doses incl. those in the form of transdermal administration or in forms or packings for retail sale (excl. goods of heading 3002, 3005 or 3006) 2.9%
Human blood; animal blood prepared for therapeutic...Human blood; animal blood prepared for therapeutic, prophylactic or diagnostic uses; antisera and other blood fractions and modified immunological products, whether or not obtained by means of biotechnological processes; vaccines, toxins, cultures of micro-organisms (excl. yeasts) and similar products 2.5%
Automatic data processing machines and units...Automatic data processing machines and units thereof; magnetic or optical readers, machines for transcribing data onto data media in coded form and machines for processing such data, n.e.s. 2.4%
See More Products 83.7%

Source: Comtrade, 2022. Because of rounding, the sum of the percentages may be smaller/greater than 100%.

 
 

To go further, check out our service Import Export Flows.

 

Main Services

287.5 bn USD of services exported in 2018
31.26%
22.32%
12.96%
11.65%
8.24%
5.34%
4.72%
1.83%
0.91%
0.78%
304.8 bn USD of services imported in 2018
29.91%
24.77%
21.39%
10.67%
5.11%
2.83%
2.17%
1.92%
0.75%
0.48%

Source: United Nations Statistics Division, 2021. Because of rounding, the sum of the percentages may be smaller/greater than 100%.

Return to top

Any Comment About This Content? Report It to Us.

 

© Export Entreprises SA, All Rights Reserved.
Latest Update: June 2022

Return to top