Extra-EU trade in manufactured goods


Data from April 2020

Planned update: April 2021

Highlights

In 2019, manufactured goods made up 83 % of all EU exports and 69 % of EU imports.

The United States, the United Kingdom and China were the main EU trading partners for manufactured goods in 2019.

EU-27 imports, exports and trade balance in manufactured products, 2002-2019

This article focuses on the structure and evolution of the European Union (EU) international trade in manufactured goods: imports and exports at EU level.

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.


Full article


The Standard international trade classification (SITC) distinguishes four main groups (sections) of manufactured goods:

  • chemicals (SITC 5);
  • manufactured goods classified chiefly by material (SITC 6);
  • machinery and vehicles (SITC 7);
  • miscellaneous manufactured articles (SITC 8).

Categories 6 and 8 are often grouped together as 'other manufactured goods'. This grouping is also used in this article.

Manufactured goods dominate international trade

The share of manufactured goods in total exports of goods decreased from 86.6 % in 2002 to 82.8 % in 2019 (Figure 1). It peaked in 2002 at 86.6 % and had its lowest value in 2012 at 80.3 %. The share of manufactured goods in total imports of goods decreased from 70.3 % in 2002 to 69.5 % in 2019. It peaked in 2016 at 71.3 % and had its lowest value in 2012 at 57.2 %.


Figure 1: Share of manufactured goods in total trade of goods, 2002-2019.png

Between 2002 and 2019, exports of manufactured goods increased by EUR 900 billion, from EUR 865 billion to EUR 1 765 billion (Figure 2). This was equivalent to an average annual growth rate of 4.3 %. In this period, imports of manufactured goods increased by EUR 683 billion, from EUR 662 billion to EUR 1 344 billion. This was equivalent to an average annual growth rate of 4.3 %, which equalled the growth rate for exports. In this period, the trade balance increased from EUR 204 billion to EUR 421 billion. It had its lowest value of EUR 182 billion in 2003 and peaked in 2013 at EUR 483 billion.

Figure 2: EU-27 trade in manufactured goods, 2002-2019.png
2004

The United States was the largest export partner for manufactured goods in 2019 with a share of 19.2 %. The top six partners accounted for 57.8 % of total exports of manufactured goods. China was the largest import partner for manufactured goods in 2019 with a share of 26.2 %. The top six partners accounted for 67.1 % of total imports of manufactured goods.

Figure 3: EU-27 trade in manufactured goods for main partners, 2019.png
Source: Eurostat (online data code: Comext data code : DS-018995)

Within manufactured goods, machinery and vehicles was the largest group, both in exports (49.4 %) and imports (47.3 %). In both cases other manufactured goods was the second largest group (27.5 % in exports and 35.2 % in imports) followed by chemicals (23.1 % in exports and 17.6 % in imports).

Figure 4: EU-27 trade in manufactured goods by category, 2019.png
Source: Eurostat (online data code: Comext data code : DS-018995)

In the next three paragraphs these three groups are discussed in more detail.

Machinery and vehicles largest sector in manufactured goods

The share of machinery and vehicles in exports of manufactured goods decreased from 52.6 % in 2002 to 49.4 % in 2019 (Figure 5). It peaked in 2008 at 52.8 % and had its lowest value in 2019 at 49.4 %. The share of machinery and vehicles in imports of manufactured goods decreased from 51.1 % in 2002 to 47.3 % in 2019. It peaked in 2002 at 51.1 % and had its lowest value in 2014 at 43.6 %.

Figure 5:Share of machinery and vehicles in manufactured goods, 2002-2019.png

Between 2002 and 2019, exports of machinery and vehicles increased by EUR 417 billion, from EUR 455 billion to EUR 872 billion (Figure 6). This was equivalent to an average annual growth rate of 3.9 %. In this period, imports of machinery and vehicles increased by EUR 297 billion, from EUR 338 billion to EUR 635 billion. This was equivalent to an average annual growth rate of 3.8 %. In this period, the trade balance increased from EUR 117 billion to EUR 237 billion. It had its lowest value of EUR 106 billion in 2003 and peaked in 2013 at EUR 317 billion.

Figure 6: EU-27 trade in machinery and vehicles, 2002-2019.png
2004

The largest category in exports of machinery and vehicles was road vehicles with 26.3 % (Figure 7). It was followed by general industrial machinery and equipment and electrical machinery and parts thereof, both with 15.5 %. The largest category in imports of machinery and vehicles was electrical machinery and parts thereof with 22.2 %. It was followed by road vehicles with 17.3 % and telecommunications and sound-recording with 16.2 %.

Figure 7: EU-27 trade, categories in machinery and vehicles, 2019.png

The United States was the largest export partner for machinery and vehicles in 2019 with a share of 17.9 % (Figure 8). The top six partners accounted for 56.7 % of total exports of machinery and vehicles. China was the largest import partner for machinery and vehicles in 2019 with a share of 31.0 %. The top six partners accounted for 72.3 % of total imports of machinery and vehicles.

Figure 8: EU-27 trade in machinery and vehicles for main partners, 2019.png
Source: Eurostat (online data code: Comext data code : DS-018995)

China accounts for a quarter of the imports of other manufactured goods

The share of other manufactured goods in exports of manufactured goods decreased from 30.0 % in 2002 to 27.5 % in 2019 (Figure 9). It peaked in 2002 at 30.0 % and had its lowest value in 2016 at 27.5 %. The share of other manufactured goods in imports of manufactured goods increased from 34.2 % in 2002 to 35.2 % in 2019. It peaked in 2007 at 38.8 % and had its lowest value in 2002 at 34.2 %.

Figure 9:Share of other goods in trade of manufactured goods, 2002-2019.png

Between 2002 and 2019, exports of other manufactured goods increased by EUR 227 billion, from EUR 259 billion to EUR 486 billion (Figure 10). This was equivalent to an average annual growth rate of 3.8 %. In this period, imports of other manufactured goods increased by EUR 247 billion, from EUR 226 billion to EUR 473 billion. This was equivalent to an average annual growth rate of 4.4 %. In this period, the trade balance decreased from EUR 33 billion to EUR 13 billion. It had its lowest value of EUR -21 billion in 2007 and peaked in 2013 at EUR 52 billion.

Figure 10: EU-27 trade in other manufactured goods, 2002-2019.png
2004

Other manufactured goods consists of two subgroups: manufactured goods classified chiefly by material and miscellaneous manufactured articles. Both subgroups can be subdivided in categories.

The largest category in exports of manufactured goods classified chiefly by material was manufactures of metals, n.e.s. with 22.3 % (Figure 11). It was followed by iron and steel with 16.1 % and non-metallic mineral manufactures, n.e.s. with 15.5 %. The largest category in imports of manufactured goods classified chiefly by material was manufactures of metals, n.e.s. with 21.7 %. It was followed by non-ferrous metals with 18.9 % and iron and steel with 18.1 %.

Figure 11: EU-27 trade, categories in manufactured goods classified by material, 2019.png

The largest category in exports of miscellaneous manufactured articles was miscellaneous manufactured articles, n.e.s. with 29.0 % (Figure 12). It was followed by professional, scientific and controlling with 27.9 % and articles of apparel and clothing accessories with 15.1 %. The largest category in imports of miscellaneous manufactured articles was articles of apparel and clothing accessories with 30.8 %. It was followed by miscellaneous manufactured articles, n.e.s. with 26.7 % and professional, scientific and controlling with 16.5 %.

Figure 12: EU-27 trade, categories in miscellaneous manufactured articles, 2019.png

The United States was the largest export partner for other manufactured goods in 2019 with a share of 16.2 % (Figure 13). The top six partners accounted for 57.4 % of total exports of other manufactured goods. China was the largest import partner for other manufactured goods in 2019 with a share of 28.6 %. The top six partners accounted for 61.9 % of total imports of other manufactured goods.

Figure 13:EU-27 trade in other manufactured goods for main partners, 2019.png
Source: Eurostat (online data code: Comext data code : DS-018995)

Chemicals fastest growing sector in manufactured goods

The share of chemicals in exports of manufactured goods increased from 17.4 % in 2002 to 23.1 % in 2019 (Figure 14). It peaked in 2019 at 23.1 % and had its lowest value in 2002 at 17.4 %. The share of chemicals in imports of manufactured goods increased from 14.6 % in 2002 to 17.6 % in 2019. It peaked in 2013 at 18.6 % and had its lowest value in 2002 at 14.6 %.

Figure 14:Share of chemicals in trade of manufactured goods, 2002-2019.png

Between 2002 and 2019, exports of chemicals increased by EUR 257 billion, from EUR 151 billion to EUR 408 billion (Figure 15). This was equivalent to an average annual growth rate of 6.0 %. In this period, imports of chemicals increased by EUR 139 billion, from EUR 97 billion to EUR 236 billion. This was equivalent to an average annual growth rate of 5.4 %. In this period, the trade balance increased from EUR 54 billion in 2002 to a peak of EUR 172 billion in 2019. It had its lowest value of EUR 52 billion in 2003.

Figure 15: EU-27 trade in chemicals, 2002-2019.png
2004

The largest category in exports of chemicals was medicinal and pharmaceutical products with 49.8 % (Figure 16). It was followed by organic chemicals with 12.3 %. The largest category in imports of chemicals was medicinal and pharmaceutical products with 39.6 %. It was followed by organic chemicals with 22.2 % and chemical materials and products, n.e.s. with 10.0 %.

Figure 16: EU-27 trade, categories in chemicals, 2019.png

The United States was the largest export partner for chemicals in 2019 with a share of 25.4 % (Figure 17). The top six partners accounted for 60.9 % of total exports of chemicals. The United States was the largest import partner for chemicals in 2019 with a share of 22.7 %. The top six partners accounted for 72.0 % of total imports of chemicals.

Figure 17:EU-27 trade in chemicals for main partners, 2019.png
Source: Eurostat (online data code: Comext data code : DS-018995)

Product categories

Some of the labels in Figures 7, 11, 12 and 16 have been shortened for graphical reasons. The complete label for each category is shown in the table below.

Table 1: Complete labels for manufactured products at SITC level two
Source: Eurostat (Comext data code : DS-018995)


Data sources

EU data come from Eurostat’s COMEXT database. COMEXT is the Eurostat reference database for international trade. 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 from Eurostat website are compiled from COMEXT data according to a monthly process. Because COMEXT is updated on a daily basis, data published on the website may differ from data stored in COMEXT in case of recent revisions.

EU data are compiled according to community guidelines and may, therefore, differ from national data published by Member States. Statistics on extra-EU trade are calculated as the sum of trade of each of the 27 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 among Member States within the EU.

The EU-27 data reflect the political change in the EU composition. Therefore the United Kingdom is considered as an extra-EU partner country for the EU-27. However, the United Kingdom is still part of the internal market until the end of the transitory period, meaning that data on trade with the United Kingdom are still based on statistical concepts applicable to trade between the EU Member States. As a consequence, while imports from any other extra-EU-27 trade partner are grouped by country of origin, the United Kingdom data reflect country of consignment. In practice this means that the goods imported by the EU-27 from the United Kingdom were physically transported from the United Kingdom but part of these goods could have been of other origin than the United Kingdom. For this reason data on trade with the United Kingdom are not fully comparable with data on trade with other extra-EU-27 trade partners.

Unit of measure

Trade values are expressed in 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

The EU is the world's biggest exporter of manufactured goods, and is a global market leader for high-quality products. Thanks to some of its key assets such as chemicals, pharmacy products, motor vehicles and non-electrical machinery, the European Union has a substantial trade surplus for manufactured products.

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