Statistics Explained

USA-EU - international trade in goods statistics



Data extracted in March 2021

Planned article update: March 2022

Highlights

The United States was the largest importer and the third largest exporter in the world in 2019.
In 2020, the United States was the largest partner for EU exports of goods (18.3 %) and the second largest partner for EU imports of goods (11.8 %).
Among EU Member States, Germany was both the largest importer of goods from and the largest exporter of goods to the United States.
[[File:USA-EU international trade in goods 2021.xlsx]]

EU trade in goods with the United States, 2010-2020

This article provides a picture of the international trade in goods between the European Union (EU) and the United States. It analyses the type of goods exchanged between the two economies and the shares of each EU Member State in those exchanges.

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

Recent developments, impact of COVID-19

The COVID-19 crisis caused both exports and imports between the EU and the United States to fall in 2020. Exports reached a minimum of EUR 23.3 billion in April 2020. By December 2020 they had recovered to EUR 32.5 billion, slightly higher than in December 2019. Imports reached a minimum of EUR 13.2 billion in May 2020. By December 2020 they had recovered to EUR 17.1 billion, still well below the EUR 19.2 billion in December 2019.

Figure 1: EU trade in goods with the United States, 2019-2020
Source: Eurostat (ext_st_eu27_2020sitc)

Figure 2 compares trade with the United States to trade with other non EU countries. Between January 2019 and December 2020, exports to the United States decreased by 1.4 % while exports to other non EU countries decreased by 2.8 %. Imports from the United States decreased by 12.5 % while imports from other non EU countries decreased by 9.4 %. Focusing on the first half of 2020, the lowest level of exports was seen in April, both for the United States and other non EU countries, with both at 71 % of their level in January 2019. For imports, the lowest level for the United States occurred in May 2020 at 67 % of January 2019 levels while for other non EU countries the lowest (78 %) was a month earlier and less pronounced.

Figure 2: EU trade in goods with the United States and other non-EU countries, 2019-2020
Source: Eurostat (ext_st_eu27_2020sitc)

EU and the United States in world trade in goods

Figure 3 shows the world's largest traders of goods. The United States (EUR 1 468 billion, 10.6 %) was the third largest exporter in the world, preceded by China (EUR 2 233 billion, 16.1 %) and the EU (EUR 2 132 billion, 15.4 %) and followed by Japan (EUR 630 billion, 4.6 %) and South Korea (EUR 484 billion, 3.5 %). The United States (EUR 2 293 billion, 16.1 %) was the largest importer in the world, followed by the EU (EUR 1 940 billion, 13.7 %), China (EUR 1 857 billion, 13.1 %), Japan (EUR 644 billion, 4.5 %) and the United Kingdom (EUR 622 billion, 4.4 %).

Figure 3: The United States among the world's largest traders of goods, 2019
Source: Eurostat (ext_lt_introeu27_2020) and UNCTAD


The imports and exports of goods of the EU and the United States indexed at 100 in 2009 for the period to 2019 are shown in Figure 4. It also shows the cover ratio (exports / imports) for this period. Exports from the EU were lowest in 2009 (100) and highest in 2019 (180). Imports to the EU were lowest in 2009 (100) and highest in 2019 (163). The cover ratio for the EU was lowest in 2011 (97 %) and highest in 2016 (116 %) and was 110 % in 2019. Exports from the United States were lowest in 2009 (100) and highest in 2018 (158) and were 156 in 2019. Imports to the United States were lowest in 2009 (100) and highest in 2018 (163) and were 160 in 2019. The cover ratio for the United States was lowest in 2018 (64 %) and highest in 2013 (68 %) and was 64 % in 2019.

Figure 4: Trade in goods of the EU and the United States, 2009 to 2019
Source: Eurostat (ext_lt_introeu27_2020) and UNCTAD


Both exports to and imports from the United States increased between 2010 and 2020.

The position of the United States among the largest trade partners of the EU in 2020 can be seen in Figure 5. In 2020, the United States was the largest partner for EU exports of goods (18.3 %). It was followed by the United Kingdom (14.4 %), China (10.5 %), Switzerland (7.4 %) and Russia (4.1 %). It was the second largest partner for EU imports of goods (11.8 %), preceded by China (22.4 %) and followed by the United Kingdom (9.8 %), Switzerland (6.3 %) and Russia (5.6 %).

Figure 5: The United States among the EU's main partners for trade in goods, 2020
Source: Eurostat (ext_st_eu27_2020sitc) and Comext DS-018995

Figure 6 shows the exports, imports and trade balance between the EU and the United States from 2010 to 2020. In 2010, the EU had a trade surplus with the United States of EUR 61 billion. The trade surplus remained throughout the whole period, reaching EUR 150 billion in 2020. Both exports to and imports from the United States increased between 2010 and 2020. EU exports to the United States were highest in 2019 (EUR 384 billion) and lowest in 2010 (EUR 203 billion). EU imports from the United States were highest in 2019 (EUR 233 billion) and lowest in 2010 (EUR 142 billion).

Figure 6: EU trade in goods with the United States, 2010-2020 (EUR billion)
Source: Eurostat (ext_st_eu27_2020sitc) and Comext DS-018995


EU-the United States trade by type of goods

The breakdown of EU trade with the United States by SITC groups is shown in Figure 7. The red shades denote the primary products: food & drink, raw materials and energy, while the blue shades show the manufactured goods: chemicals, machinery & vehicles and other manufactured goods. Finally, other goods are shown in green. In 2020, EU exports of manufactured goods (88 %) had a higher share than primary goods (9 %). The most exported manufactured goods were machinery & vehicles (37 %), followed by chemicals (32 %) and other manufactured products (20 %). In 2020, EU imports of manufactured goods (80 %) also had a higher share than primary goods (18 %). The most imported manufactured goods were machinery & vehicles (38 %), followed by chemicals (25 %) and other manufactured products (18 %).

Figure 7: EU trade with the United States by product group, 2010 and 2020 (EUR billion)
Source: Eurostat (ext_st_eu27_2020sitc) and Comext DS-018995


Figure 8 shows the evolution of EU imports and exports by SITC group since 2010. In 2020, the EU had trade surpluses in chemicals (EUR 61.1 billion), machinery & vehicles (EUR 54.3 billion), other manufactured products (EUR 34.0 billion), food & drink (EUR 11.7 billion) and other products (EUR 6.9 billion) . The EU has a trade deficit in energy (EUR 13.6 billion) and raw materials (EUR 4.2 billion).

Figure 8: EU trade with the United States by group, 2010-2020 (EUR billion)
Source: Eurostat (ext_st_eu27_2020sitc) and Comext DS-018995


EU-the United States most traded goods

More detail about the goods exchanged between the EU and the United States is given in Figure 9, showing the 20 most traded goods at SITC-3 level. These top 20 goods covered 52 % of total trade in goods in 2020. Ten belonged to machinery and vehicles, four to chemicals, three to other manufactured products, two to energy and one to food and drink. The most traded product group at this level was medicinal and pharmaceutical products. Another interesting way to look at the data is to investigate the cover ratio (exports / imports) of traded goods, showing the direction of the trade flows between the two economies. These ratios can be found in the right-hand margin of Figure 9. One product (petroleum oils, crude with 0 %) was below 50 %, indicating EU imports from the United States were at least twice as large as EU exports to the United States. Ten products were above 200 %, indicating EU exports to the United States were at least twice as large as EU imports from the United States. Nine products were between 50 % and 200 %, showing more balanced trade.

Figure 9: Most traded products between EU and the United States, 2020 (EUR billion)
Source: Eurostat DS-018995


Trade with the United States by Member State

Table 1a shows the imports of goods from the United States by Member State. The three largest importers from the United States in the EU were Germany (EUR 50 592 million), the Netherlands (EUR 39 914 million) and France (EUR 24 701 million). Luxembourg (26.7 %) had the highest share for the United States in its extra-EU imports.

Table 1a: EU imports of goods from the United States, 2020
Source: Eurostat (ext_st_eu27_2020sitc) and Comext DS-018995


Table 1b shows the exports of goods to the United States by Member State. The three largest exporters to the United States in the EU were Germany (EUR 104 096 million), Ireland (EUR 47 158 million) and Italy (EUR 42 468 million). Ireland (50.5 %) had the highest share for the United States in its extra-EU exports.

Table 1b: EU exports of goods to the United States, 2020
Source: Eurostat (ext_st_eu27_2020sitc) and Comext DS-018995


The trade in goods balance between the EU Member States and the United States is shown in Table 1c. It shows that 25 Member States had a trade surplus with the United States. The largest surplus was held by Germany (EUR 53 504 million), followed by Ireland (EUR 35 831 million) and Italy (EUR 27 683 million). There were two Member States that had a trade deficit with the United States. The largest deficit was held by the Netherlands (EUR 13 336 million), followed by Luxembourg (EUR 267 million).

Table 1c: EU trade balance of goods with the United States, 2020 (EUR million)
Source: Eurostat (ext_st_eu27_2020sitc) and Comext DS-018995


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 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.

The United Kingdom is considered as an extra-EU partner country for the EU for the whole period covered by this article. However, the United Kingdom was still part of the internal market until the end of the transitory period (31 December 2020), meaning that data on trade with the United Kingdom are still based on statistical concepts applicable to trade between the EU Member States. Consequently, while imports from any other extra-EU trade partner are grouped by country of origin, the United Kingdom data reflect the country of consignment. In practice this means that the goods imported by the EU 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 trade partners.

Data for the non EU countries used in figures 1-3 are taken from the UNCTAD database of the United Nations. For the calculation of shares, the world trade is defined as the sum of EU trade with non-EU countries (source: Eurostat) plus the international trade of non-EU countries (source: UNCTAD).


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 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.

Context

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 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.

Direct access to

Other articles
Tables
Database
Dedicated section
Publications
Methodology
Visualisations




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)