Back Which traded goods are affected the most by COVID-19?


© Oleksiy Mark/

To prevent the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, countries around the world have taken a variety of restrictive measures. March 2020 figures already show their significant impact on international trade in goods.

In March 2020, total seasonally adjusted extra-EU trade (imports + exports) fell from €252 billion to €228 billion compared with January 2020. However, the impact varied for different product groups.


Extra-EU imports and exports by type of goods (eur billion, seasonally adjusted, January 2020 - March 2020)

Source dataset: ext_st_eu27_2020sitc


Looking at extra-EU exports of goods, the largest decreases in absolute terms were observed for machinery and vehicles (-€14 billion, -20%) and other manufactured goods (-€7 billion, -16%) compared with January 2020. In relative terms, energy decreased the most (-€2 billion, -25%). Despite the general downturn, exports of chemicals increased (+€4 billion, +4%) over this period.

Similarly, imports of machinery and vehicles (-€8 billion, -15%) and other manufactured goods (-€7 billion, -16%) also decreased, while the largest decrease in both absolute and relative terms was observed for imports of energy products (-€9 billion, - 31%).



Change in extra-EU trade by product group (eur billion, January 2020 - March 2020)

Source dataset: ext_st_eu27_2020sitc


Total trade decreased for all products except for chemicals, with the largest decreases occurring for machinery and vehicles, other manufactured goods and energy.

These changes affected the trade balance in different ways. The increase in trade for chemicals had a positive effect on its trade balance. On the flip side, the decrease of total trade for machinery and vehicles had a negative effect on the trade balance, while for energy it had a positive effect.

For other manufactured goods, the decrease of total trade was almost evenly balanced between exports and imports; therefore, it did not cause a large change in the trade balance.


Note: The European Union (EU) includes 27 Member States. The United Kingdom left the European Union on 31 January 2020. Further information is published here.


To contact us, please visit our User Support page.

For press queries, please contact our Media Support.