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Foreign trade figures of Germany

Foreign Trade in Figures

Trade represents 100% of Germany’s GDP (World Bank 2022, up from 89% one year earlier), and the country is both the world’s third-largest importer and exporter. Germany is by far the world’s largest exporter of automobiles: accounting for 15.4% of exports, automobiles and their parts were its main export product in 2022, with a value of around EUR 245 billion (Destatis). Machinery (13.3%) and chemical products (10.3%) ranked second and third, respectively. In the same year, the main imported goods were petroleum gas (4.6%), vehicles and vehicle parts (4.4%), and petroleum oils (4%).

In 2022, Germany’s primary export destination was the U.S. which accounted for 9.8% of the total, followed by France (7.4%), the Netherlands (7%), and China (6.7%). Imports came chiefly from China (12.8%), ahead of the Netherlands and the U.S. (7.6% and 6.2%, respectively). Overall, China was Germany's most important trading partner in 2022 for the seventh consecutive year (data Destatis). Germany continues to be the “most open” economy of the G7 countries.

The country’s trade balance is structurally positive. According to the latest figures from the national statistical office Destatis, in 2022, Germany saw a notable increase in both exports and imports: goods exported amounted to EUR 1,574 billion, marking a 14.1% rise, while imports totalled EUR 1,494.4 billion, reflecting a 24.1% increase compared to 2021. The foreign trade balance for 2022 recorded a surplus of EUR 79.7 billion, the lowest since 2000. This figure represents a significant decline (for the sixth consecutive year), with the export surplus more than halving compared to the 2021 surplus of EUR 175.3 billion, mostly due to the steep rise in the cost of energy imports. The main trade surpluses were recorded with the United States (EUR 62.8 billion), France (EUR 48.2 billion), and the United Kingdom (EUR 33.4 billion). 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). Germany is generally a net importer of commercial services; nevertheless, the trend reversed in recent years. In 2022, Germany had the highest value of services exports (EUR 408 billion) and services imports (EUR 438 billion) among the EU Member States (data Eurostat).
According to preliminary figures from Destatis, in the period Jan-Oct 2023, Germany exportes EUR 1,304.6 billion worth of goods, against EUR 596.8 billion in imports (-0.8% and -2.7% year-on-year, respectively). The EU accounted for 54.3% of total exports and 66.6% of imports.

 
Foreign Trade Values 20192020202120222023
Imports of Goods (million USD) 1,233,9781,171,7821,421,5121,582,5951,462,602
Exports of Goods (million USD) 1,489,4121,382,5331,636,7421,675,8471,688,419
Imports of Services (million USD) 376,540326,196405,468468,260508,225
Exports of Services (million USD) 356,277333,894407,654430,527440,113

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

Foreign Trade Indicators 20182019202020212022
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 88.587.780.488.798.6
Trade Balance (million USD) 263,292245,868219,238230,563118,588
Trade Balance (Including Service) (million USD) 244,736230,802227,764236,60987,555
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 4.02.9-8.59.06.0
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 2.21.3-9.39.72.9
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 41.241.037.441.748.3
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 47.346.743.047.050.3

Source: World Bank ; Latest available data

Foreign Trade Forecasts 20232024 (e)2025 (e)2026 (e)2027 (e)
Volume of exports of goods and services (Annual % change) -1.72.63.73.03.1
Volume of imports of goods and services (Annual % change) -3.02.03.83.03.3

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)
2023
United States 10.1%
France 7.4%
Netherlands 7.0%
China 6.2%
Poland 5.7%
See More Countries 63.5%
Main Suppliers
(% of Imports)
2023
China 11.8%
Netherlands 7.2%
United States 6.9%
Poland 5.9%
France 5.1%
See More Countries 63.2%

Source: Comtrade, 2023. Because of rounding, the sum of the percentages may be smaller/greater than 100%.

 
 

Main Products

1,686.1 bn USD of products exported in 2022
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) 9.3%
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. 3.7%
Human blood; animal blood prepared for therapeutic...Human blood; animal blood prepared for therapeutic, prophylactic or diagnostic uses; antisera and other blood fractions and immunological products, whether or not modified or obtained by means of biotechnological processes; vaccines, toxins, cultures of micro-organisms (excl. yeasts) and similar products 2.7%
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous...Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals (excl. crude); preparations containing >= 70% by weight of petroleum oils or of oils obtained from bituminous minerals, these oils being the basic constituents of the preparations, n.e.s.; waste oils containing mainly petroleum or bituminous minerals 1.5%
See More Products 78.3%
1,588.9 bn USD of products imported in 2022
Petroleum gas and other gaseous hydrocarbonsPetroleum gas and other gaseous hydrocarbons 4.6%
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) 4.4%
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous...Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals, crude 4.0%
Human blood; animal blood prepared for therapeutic...Human blood; animal blood prepared for therapeutic, prophylactic or diagnostic uses; antisera and other blood fractions and immunological products, whether or not modified or obtained by means of biotechnological processes; vaccines, toxins, cultures of micro-organisms (excl. yeasts) and similar products 2.7%
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. 2.5%
See More Products 81.8%

Source: Comtrade, 2023. Because of rounding, the sum of the percentages may be smaller/greater than 100%.

 
 

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Latest Update: April 2024