European Neighbourhood Policy - South - international trade in goods statistics

Data extracted in December 2018.

Planned article update: January 2020.


All of the European Neighbourhood Policy-South countries recorded trade deficits for trade in goods with the EU in 2017, except Algeria which recorded a small surplus.

In 2017, the EU was a key partner for trade in goods for most European Neighbourhood Policy-South countries, particularly Tunisia and Morocco.

Trade in goods with the EU-28, 2017
(% of reporting country's total exports and imports accounted for by the EU-28)
Source: Eurostat

This article is part of an online publication and provides data on international trade in goods for 9 of the 10 countries that form the European Neighbourhood Policy-South (ENP-South) region — Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestine [1] and Tunisia; no recent data available for Syria. The article highlights some of the key indicators for tracing developments in international trade, with information on exports, imports and the trade balance. It also presents an analysis of international trade by selected product groups (based on the standard international trade classification (SITC)) and an analysis of the ENP-South countries’ trade positions with the European Union (EU).

Full article

Trade balance

The EU-28 ran a trade surplus for goods with non-member countries in 2017, valued at EUR 21.0 billion. By contrast, all of the ENP-South countries for which data are available recorded trade deficits in 2017. Imports of goods exceeded exports by as much as EUR 35.4 billion in Egypt, while Morocco recorded a trade deficit of EUR 17.0 billion (see Table 1).

Table 1: International trade in goods, 2007, 2012 and 2017
(million EUR)
Source: Eurostat

The EU-28’s exports of goods increased by 52 % in current price terms over the period 2007-2017, while imports increased by 28 %, the difference in these growth rates moving the EU-28 from a trade deficit for goods to a trade surplus. There was also an expansion in the level of both imports and exports across nearly all of the ENP-South countries (for which data are available) during this period, despite sometimes large reductions in international trade during the financial and economic crisis; the two exceptions were falls of 29 % and 63 % in Algerian exports and Libyan exports (2007-2016), which are dominated by mineral fuels (petroleum and gas), lubricants and related materials. Particularly strong export growth between 2007 and 2017 was recorded in Palestine where the value of exports more than doubled.

The value of imports in Egypt were nearly three times as high in 2017 as they had been in 2007, while imports more than doubled in value in Palestine and Algeria. The smallest increases in imports —under 50 % — were recorded in Israel and Tunisia (2007-2016). All of the ENP-South countries except for Tunisia recorded imports expanding at a faster pace than in the EU-28 during the 10-year period shown in Table 1.

The result of these developments for exports and imports was that Algeria’s and Libya’s trade surpluses in 2007 turned into deficits by 2017. All other ENP-South countries for which data are available reported larger trade deficits in 2017 than in 2007, most notably (in relative terms) Egypt and Israel.

Trade in goods analysed by broad group of product

There were considerable differences in the structure of the exports from ENP-South countries and those from the EU-28. The principal export categories for the EU-28 in 2017 included machinery and vehicles (42.3 % of all goods exported), other manufactured goods (22.6 %) and chemicals (17.7 %); together these three groups accounted for just over four fifths (82.6 %) of the total value of EU-28 exports in 2017 (see Table 2). By contrast, mineral fuels, lubricants and related goods accounted for almost all (96.1 %) of the total value of exports from Algeria in 2017 and around one fifth (19.6 %) of the exports from Egypt. The percentage of exports accounted for by food, drinks and tobacco was highest in Palestine (20.8 %), Morocco (19.9 %; 2016 data), Egypt (16.6 %) and Jordan (16.0 %) where this category represented approximately two and a half to three times the share recorded in the EU-28 (6.5 % of total exports). Other manufactured goods accounted for nearly three fifths (58.7 %) of the total exports from Palestine and for more than two fifths (41.4 %) of the total from Israel. Exports of machinery and vehicles accounted for at least one third of the total value of goods exported from Tunisia (37.9 %; 2016 data) and Morocco (33.3 %; 2016 data). Exports of chemicals accounted for just under three tenths (28.9 %) of the total value of goods exported from Jordan in 2017.

Table 2: Exports by broad group of goods, 2017
(% of total exports)
Source: Eurostat

Table 3 shows that the structure of imports was broadly comparable across most of the ENP-South countries and in relation to the EU-28. The three largest categories of imports (in value terms) were generally mineral fuels, lubricants and related goods; machinery and vehicles; other manufactured goods. Together these three groups accounted for just over three quarters (75.7 %) of the EU-28’s imports in 2017. A similar pattern was observed for some of the ENP-South countries, although there were exceptions. In Algeria imports of mineral fuels, lubricants and related goods were particularly low, as were imports of machinery and vehicles in Palestine, such that food, drink and tobacco appeared amongst the top three product groups in both of these countries. The share of mineral fuels, lubricants and related goods in total imports was also relatively low in Israel and Tunisia (2016 data) and in fact lower than the shares for chemicals, as it also was in Algeria. In Jordan the 17.9 % share of food, drinks and tobacco in total imports was also slightly higher than the 16.7 % share for mineral fuels, lubricants and related goods. The relatively low share of mineral fuels, lubricants and related goods among imports in several ENP-South countries may, among other factors, be attributed to national supplies/endowments of energy sources, less demand for energy to heat homes, and/or lower motorisation rates: more data are available in the articles on energy and transport.

Table 3: Imports by broad group of goods, 2017
(% of total imports)
Source: Eurostat

Trade between the EU-28 and ENP-South countries

There are generally close links between the EU-28 and many of the ENP-South countries in relation to the international trade of goods. This was particularly true for some of the Maghreb countries: in 2017, the EU-28 accounted for a majority of the total trade (imports plus exports combined) in goods for Tunisia (2016 data), Morocco and Algeria. By contrast, the EU-28 was relatively less important as a partner for Palestinian international trade and the share of Jordanian exports destined for the EU-28 was also relatively small.

Figure 1: Trade in goods with the EU-28, 2017
(% of reporting country's total exports and imports accounted for by the EU-28)
Source: Eurostat

All of the ENP-South countries (for which recent data are available) recorded trade deficits for their trade in goods with the EU-28 in 2016 and/or 2017, with the exception of Algeria which recorded a small surplus.

Data sources

The data for ENP-South countries are supplied by and under the responsibility of the national statistical authorities of each country on a voluntary basis. The majority of the data presented in this article result from an annual data collection cycle that has been established by Eurostat. No recent data are available from Syria. These statistics are available free-of-charge on Eurostat’s website, together with a range of different indicators covering most socio-economic areas. More data may be available from the United Nations’ Comtrade database.

Tables in this article use the following notation:

Value in italics     data value is forecasted, provisional or estimated and is therefore likely to change;
: not available, confidential or unreliable value;
not applicable.


The EU seeks to promote the development of free-trade as an instrument for stimulating economic growth and enhancing competitiveness. International trade statistics are of prime importance for both public sector (international, EU and national decision makers) and private users (in particular, businesses who wish to analyse export market opportunities), as they provide valuable information on developments regarding the exchange of goods between specific geographic areas. These statistics enable the EU to monitor the growth of trade ties with its ENP partners, while they are also used by the European Commission to prepare multilateral and bilateral negotiations for common trade policies.

On 18 November 2015, the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the European Commission jointly presented a review of the European Neighbourhood Policy (SWD(2015) 500 final) which underlined a new approach for the EU in relation to its eastern and southern neighbours, based on stabilising the region in political, economic, and security-related terms.

In cooperation with its ENP partners, Eurostat has the responsibility ‘to promote and implement the use of European and internationally recognised standards and methodology for the production of statistics necessary for developing and monitoring policy achievements in all policy areas’. Eurostat undertakes the task of coordinating EU efforts to increase the statistical capacity of the ENP countries. Additional information on the policy context of the ENP is provided in the background article Statistical cooperation - European Neighbourhood Policy.

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Economy and finance (med_ec)
International trade as a share of gdp (med_ec4)
International trade by SITC - 1 000 EUR (med_ecet)
International trade in goods - aggregated data (ext_go_agg)
International trade in goods - long-term indicators (ext_go_lti)


  1. This designation shall not be construed as recognition of a State of Palestine and is without prejudice to the individual positions of the Member States on this issue.