Main goods in extra-EU exports
Data extracted in March 2020
Planned article update: April 2021
Machinery and equipment, followed by motor vehicles, was the most exported product from the EU every year between 2015 and 2019.
In 2019, the top 5 EU export products were machinery and equipment (13.0 % of total exports), motor vehicles (11.3 %), pharmaceutical products (9.6 %), chemical products (8.3 %) and computer, electronic and optical products (8.1 %).
Germany was the biggest EU exporter of all top 5 export products in 2019 - machinery and equipment, motor vehicles, pharmaceutical products, chemical products and computer, electronic and optical products.
Top 5 CPA categories in extra-EU exports, 2015-2019
This article focuses on the most significant goods by value (according to the CPA classification) in extra-EU exports and presents statistics for the EU-27 from 2015 to 2019. Statistics on goods traded between the EU and the world — especially the size and evolution of exports — enable the EU and national authorities to evaluate the health and competitiveness of EU industries. The article discusses the contribution of individual Member States to total extra-EU exports for the five most exported product groups. Additionally, it shows the share these product groups have in each Member State's total extra-EU exports of goods.
This article is part of an online publication providing recent statistics on international trade in goods, covering information on the EU's main partners, main products traded, specific characteristics of trade as well as background information.
EU-27 exports by CPA groups
The CPA classification consists of 40 products. The 24 most exported products are shown in Table 1, while the other 16 are grouped as "Other". Among the 24 products, 18 recorded the highest exports in 2019. Between 2015 and 2019, the largest increase was in 'Basic pharmaceutical products and preparations which grew from EUR 151.6 billion to EUR 205.2 billion.
The composition of total exports of goods in 2019 in the 24 CPA groups in table 1 is shown Figure 1. The top two products 'Machinery and equipment n.e.c.' (machines) and 'Motor vehicles, trailers and semi-trailers' (cars) together account for almost a quarter of all exports. Together with the next three: 'Basic pharmaceutical products' (pharmaceuticals), 'Chemical Products' (chemicals) and 'Computers, electronic and optical products'(computers), they account for half of all exports. The rest of this article will concentrate on these top five products.
From 2015 to 2019, these five products were continuously in the top 5. Throughout the period the most exported product was machines whose exports grew from EUR 247 billion in 2015 to EUR 277 billion in 2019 (Figure 2). Cars fell from EUR 245 billion in 2015 to EUR 241 billion in 2019. The exports of pharmaceuticals, chemicals and computers were close together between 2015 and 2018. However, pharmaceuticals grew more strongly than any of the other top-5 products and overtook chemicals in 2018.
Other machinery and equipment
In 2019, Germany was the largest exporter of machines in the EU-27. Its exports of EUR 106 billion were 38.4 % of total EU-27 exports to countries outside the EU. There were six Member States where the share of machines in their total exports to countries outside the EU was above 15 %. These were Italy (19.7 %), Luxembourg (17.7 %), Austria (17.5 %), Germany (16.8 %), Finland (16.5 %) and Denmark (15.8 %).
In 2019, Germany was the largest exporter of cars in the EU-27. Its exports of EUR 129 billion were 53.3 % of total EU-27 exports to countries outside the EU. There were four Member States where the share of cars in their total exports to countries outside the EU was above 15 %. These were Slovakia (52.1 %), Czechia (21.5 %), Germany (20.4 %) and Romania (16.4 %).
In 2019, Germany was the largest exporter of pharmaceuticals in the EU-27. Its exports of EUR 48 billion were 23.6 % of total EU-27 exports to countries outside the EU. There were five Member States where the share of pharmaceuticals in their total exports to countries outside the EU was above 10 %. These were Ireland (40.6 %), Slovenia (27.7 %), Belgium (20.7 %), the Netherlands (10.2 %) and Sweden (10,1 %).
In 2019, Germany was the largest exporter of chemicals in the EU-27. Its exports of EUR 48 billion were 27.3 % of total EU-27 exports to countries outside the EU. There were five Member States where the share of chemicals in their total exports to countries outside the EU was above 10 %. These were Ireland (16.3 %), Belgium (13.9 %), Estonia (11.3 %), Lithuania (10,. %) and France (10.2 %).
Computer, electronic and optical products
In 2019, Germany was the largest exporter of computers in the EU-27. Its exports of EUR 58 billion were 33.7 % of total EU-27 exports to countries outside the EU. There were four Member States where the share of computers in their total exports to countries outside the EU was above 15 %. These were Malta (28.8 %), Czechia (19.4 %), Hungary (19.1 %) and Estonia (16.2 %).
Source data for tables and graphs
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 27 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.
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.
Classification of products by activity (CPA) is a statistical classification of products and services obligatory for all EU Member States. CPA classifies products by activity in which they are produced. Products are transportable goods and services. The CPA is a product classification whose elements are related to activities as defined by NACE Rev. 2. Each product - whether it be a transportable or a non-transportable good or a service - is assigned to one single NACE Rev. 2 activity. The linkage to activities as defined by NACE Rev. 2 gives the CPA a structure parallel to that of NACE Rev. 2 at all levels distinguished by NACE Rev. 2.
Unit of measure
Trade values are expressed in millions (106) or billions (109) of euros. They correspond to the statistical value, i.e. to the amount which would be invoiced in the event 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.
Trade is an important indicator of Europe’s prosperity and place in the world. The bloc 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 27 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 - detailed data (detail)
- International trade in goods statistics - background
- International trade in goods (ESMS metadata file — ext_go_esms)
- User guide on European statistics on international trade in goods
- Regulation (EC) No 471/2009 of 6 May 2009 on Community statistics relating to external trade with non-member countries
- Summaries of EU Legislation: Extrastat: statistics relating to trade with non-EU countries
- Regulation (EU) No 92/2010 of 2 February 2010 implementing Regulation (EC) No 471/2009, as regards data exchange between customs authorities and national statistical authorities, compilation of statistics and quality assessment
- Regulation (EU) No 113/2010 of 9 February 2010 implementing Regulation (EC) No 471/2009 , as regards trade coverage, definition of the data, compilation of statistics on trade by business characteristics and by invoicing currency, and specific goods or movements.