Western Balkan countries-EU - international trade in goods statistics

Data extracted in May 2018. Planned article update: May 2019.

Highlights
The EU was the main partner of the Western Balkan countries, both in terms of exports (70 %) and imports (59 %) in 2017.
In 2017 manufactured goods made up 77 % of EU exports and 80 % of EU imports from the Western Balkan countries.

Imports, exports and trade balance between the EU and the Western Balkan countries, 2007-2017


This article provides a picture of the international trade in goods between the European Union (EU) and its Western Balkan partners (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Kosovo[1]). It analyses the type of goods exchanged between them and the shares of each EU Member State in those exchanges.


Full article


Overview

  • The EU is the main trading partner for the Western Balkan countries, both in imports and in exports.
  • The EU has a continuous trade surplus with the Western Balkan countries which was EUR 9 billion in 2017.
  • Manufactured goods are the most traded products with the Western Balkan countries.
  • Serbia is the EU's largest export partner among Western Balkan countries, followed by Bosnia-Herzegovina, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Albania, Montenegro and Kosovo. This same order is also found for imports from the Western Balkan countries.
  • In absolute terms, Germany is the largest exporter to and importer from the Western Balkan countries.
  • Among the Member States, the Western Balkan countries are the most important export and import partner of Croatia when measured as a share of total extra-EU exports and imports.

Western Balkan countries trade with the EU and other main partners

Figure 1 shows the main trading partners of the Western Balkan countries. The EU is the main partner both in exports (70 %) and imports (59 %), while trade among Western Balkan countries takes second place. China is an important import partner for the Western Balkan countries but has a very small share in their exports. Russia and Turkey complete the top five of trade partners.

Figure 1: Western Balkan countries export and import shares with main partners, 2017
Source: Eurostat (ext_lt_introle)

Figure 2 shows that the EU has had a continuous trade surplus with the Western Balkan countries. It peaked at EUR 12 billion in 2008 and had a low of EUR 8 billion in 2010 and from 2013 to 2016. In 2017 it reached EUR 9 billion, which was almost the same as it was in 2007. Both imports and exports increased by around EUR 11 billion over this period.

Figure 2: EU-28, exports, imports and trade balance with Western Balkan countries, 2007-2017 (EUR billion)
Source: Eurostat (ext_lt_introle)

Manufactured goods dominate trade with Western Balkan countries

Figures 3 and 4 show the exports to and imports from Western Balkan countries by product group. The red colours are used for the primary goods: Food and drink, raw materials and energy. Blue colours are used for manufactured goods: chemicals, machinery and vehicles. In 2017 manufactured goods made up 77 % of exports to and 80 % of imports from Western Balkan countries.

In exports of manufactured products, machinery and vehicles (34 %) had the largest share, followed by other manufactured goods (29 %) and chemicals (14 %). In primary products, the shares of energy, and food and drink (both 10 %) were almost equal, while raw materials (3 %) had only a small share.


Figure 3: EU-28 exports to Western Balkan countries by main product groups, 2017 (shares of total exports in value)
Source: Eurostat (ext_lt_maineu)

In imports of manufactured products, the top spot for machinery and vehicles (40 %) was even clearer. As in exports, also here manufactured goods (29 %) and chemicals (11 %) followed. In primary products the shares were smaller than in imports; food and drinks (8 %) led, followed by raw materials (6 %) and energy (5 %)

Figure 4: EU-28 imports from Western Balkan countries by main product groups, 2017 (shares of total imports in value)
Source: Eurostat (ext_lt_maineu)

Serbia is the largest Western Balkan trade partner of the EU

Figure 5 shows that Serbia accounts for almost half of the total EU exports to the Western Balkan countries. Its growth between 2007 and 2017 in absolute terms was the largest of the six Western Balkan countries. However, its average annual growth rate (4.5 %) was fourth, behind that of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (8.6 %), Kosovo (7.9 %) and Albania (4.9 %) but in front of Bosnia-Herzegovina (3.0 %) and Montenegro (2.5 %).


Figure 5: EU-28 exports to Western Balkan countries, 2007-2017 (EUR million)
Source: Eurostat DS-018995

Figure 6 shows that Serbia is also the main import partner for the EU, again with almost half of total imports from Western Balkan countries. It also had the highest average annual growth (9.8 %) between 2007 and 2017, followed by Albania (9.1 %), the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (7.7 %), Kosovo (6.6 %) and Bosnia-Herzegovina (6.1 %). Montenegro's (-7.2 %) negative growth rate meant that its imports from the EU in 2017 were less than half of what they had been in 2007.

Figure 6: EU-28 imports from Western Balkan countries, 2007-2017 (EUR million)
Source: Eurostat DS-018995

Figure 7 shows that the EU had a trade surplus with all six Western Balkan countries. The trade surplus with Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina decreased between 2007 and 2017 while the trade surplus with the other four countries increased.

Figure 7: EU-28 trade balance with Western Balkan countries, 2007-2017 (EUR million)
Source: Eurostat DS-018995

Western Balkan countries are important trade partners for Croatia

Figure 8 shows the exports to the Western Balkan countries by Member State. There were three Member States whose exports were above EUR 5 billion: Germany (EUR 9.1 billion), Italy (7.8 billion) and Slovenia (5.0 billion). For Germany (0.9 %) and Italy (2.1 %) these exports were only a small percentage of their total extra-EU exports but for Slovenia this was almost a third of their total exports. The only Member State where this share was higher was Croatia (45.7 %, EUR 3.7 billion). Greece (13.1 %, EUR 2.3 billion) and Bulgaria (12.0 %, EUR 1.7 billion) were the only other Member States where the share was above 10 %.

Figure 8: Exports to Western Balkan countries by Member State, 2017
Source: Eurostat DS-018995

Figure 9 shows the same three countries importing the most from the Western Balkan countries. Again, for Germany (1.5 %, EUR 9.0 billion) and for Italy (2.7 %, EUR 7.0 billion) the shares in total extra-EU trade were small while for Slovenia (18.5 %, EUR 3.2 billion) it was more substantial, although not as high as in exports. Croatia (29.1 %, EUR 2.2 billion) was again the Member State with the highest share in extra-EU imports from the Western Balkan countries.

Figure 9: Imports to Western Balkan countries by Member State, 2017
Source: Eurostat DS-018995

Figure 10 shows that only five countries (Luxembourg, Cyprus, Malta, Lithuania and Sweden) had a trade deficit with the Western Balkan countries. Hungary (EUR 1.87 billion), Slovenia (EUR 1.81 billion), Poland (EUR 1.64 billion), the United Kingdom (EUR 1.57 billion), Croatia (EUR 1.51 billion), Greece (EUR 1.50 billion) and the Netherlands (EUR 1.09 billion) all had trade surpluses of more than EUR 1 billion.


Figure 10: Trade balance with Western Balkan countries by Member State, 2017 (EUR billion)
Source: Eurostat DS-018995

Source data for tables and graphs

Data sources

EU data is taken from Eurostat's COMEXT database. COMEXT is the reference database for international trade in goods. It provides access not only to both recent and historical data from the EU Member States but also to statistics of a significant number of third countries. International trade aggregated and detailed statistics disseminated via the Eurostat website are compiled from COMEXT data according to a monthly process.

Data are collected by the competent national authorities of the Member States and compiled according to a harmonised methodology established by EU regulations before transmission to Eurostat. For extra-EU trade, the statistical information is mainly provided by the traders on the basis of customs declarations.

EU data are compiled according to Community guidelines and may, therefore, differ from national data published by the Member States. Statistics on extra-EU trade are calculated as the sum of trade of each of the 28 EU Member States with countries outside the EU. In other words, the EU is considered as a single trading entity and trade flows are measured into and out of the area, but not within it.

Methodology According to the EU concepts and definitions, extra-EU trade statistics (trade between EU Member States and non-EU countries) do not record exchanges involving goods in transit, placed in a customs warehouse or given temporary admission (for trade fairs, temporary exhibitions, tests, etc.). This is known as ‘special trade’. The partner is the country of final destination of the goods for exports and the country of origin for imports.

Product classification Information on commodities exported and imported is presented according to the Standard international trade classification (SITC). A full description is available from Eurostat’s classification server RAMON.

Unit of measure Trade values are expressed in millions or billions (109) of euros. They correspond to the statistical value, i.e. to the amount which would be invoiced in case of sale or purchase at the national border of the reporting country. It is called a FOB value (free on board) for exports and a CIF value (cost, insurance, freight) for imports.

Context

Trade is an important indicator of Europe’s prosperity and place in the world. The block is deeply integrated into global markets both for the products it sources and the exports it sells. The EU trade policy is an important element of the external dimension of the ‘Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth’ and is one of the main pillars of the EU’s relations with the rest of the world.

Because the 28 EU Member States share a single market and a single external border, they also have a single trade policy. EU Member States speak and negotiate collectively, both in the World Trade Organization, where the rules of international trade are agreed and enforced, and with individual trading partners. This common policy enables them to speak with one voice in trade negotiations, maximising their impact in such negotiations. This is even more important in a globalised world in which economies tend to cluster together in regional groups.

The openness of the EU’s trade regime has meant that the EU is the biggest player on the global trading scene and remains a good region to do business with. Thanks to the ease of modern transport and communications, it is now easier to produce, buy and sell goods around the world which gives European companies of every size the potential to trade outside Europe.


International trade in goods - long-term indicators (t_ext_go_lti)
International trade in goods - short-term indicators (t_ext_go_sti)
International trade in goods - aggregated data (ext_go_agg)
International trade in goods - long-term indicators (ext_go_lti)
International trade in goods - short-term indicators (ext_go_sti)
International trade in goods - detailed data (detail)
EU trade since 1988 by SITC (DS-018995)

Notes

  1. This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244/1999 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.
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