11 largest exporters of the world


By Dike Onwuamaeze

The Peoples Republic of China is not yet ready to relinquish the eminent position it is occupying in the global economy. In 2013, in spite of its 1.35 billion population, China emerged the world’s largest exporter, a position it first attained in 2010. Its exports in 2013 were valued at $2.21 trillion against its 2012 estimated exports value of $2.049 trillion.

Statistics from the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) World Economic Outlook database show that exports accounted for 16.5 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), which was $13.374 trillion in 2013. At China’s current population figure of 1.35 billion, the $2.21 trillion in 2013 Chinese exports was $1,638 for every person in the country.

China’s road to a leading export country was paved in the 1970s when it gradually, but deliberately, moved from a closed centrally planned economy to a more market-oriented economy. The restructuring of its economy and the resulting efficiency it brought contributed to a more than tenfold increase in its GDP since 1978.

China’s performance was driven by 10 exports that accounted for 67.8 percent of its overall exports in 2013. Those exports were electronic equipment, machinery, knit or crochet clothing and accessories, furniture, lighting, signs and prefabricated buildings. The major export destinations of China in 2013 were Hong Kong, United States, Japan and South Korea.

Coming next to China in the list of world’s largest exporters in 2013 is the United States whose exports were valued at $1.579 trillion in 2013.This represents 49.4 percent increase when compared to its performance in 2009. Also, the values of the exports stand at $4,989 per person in the US. The growth in export also contributed to the reduction of the unemployment rate from 8.1 percent in 2012 to 7.3 percent in July 2013. The contribution of exports to United States’ GDP was estimated at 13.5 percent in 2013.

America’s rating at the world’s export market testifies to the success of President Barack Obama’s stimulus package in 2009 that turned around the country’s economy from recession to positive growth rate. Since 2009, U.S. exports have risen by $694 billion and account for a third of America’s economic growth. The number of exporting companies also increased from 276,000 to 302,000 while jobs supported by exports grew by 1.3 million.

Ten chief exports from the United States contributed 68.4 percent of the overall exports value. They include machinery, electronic equipment, mineral fuels including oil, vehicles excluding trains and streetcars, aircraft and spacecraft, optical, technical and medical apparatus, pearls, precious stones, precious metals and coins and pharmaceutical products. Mineral fuels were the fastest-growing export products. It posted a 170.2 percent gain over the five-year period ending in 2013. Canada, Mexico, China and Japan were the biggest export destination of US.

Germany, the fifth largest economy in the world and Europe’s largest, came third in the ranking of largest exporters in 2013. Its estimated value of exports was $1.493 trillion during the year under review, which represented 28.8 percent increase since 2009. Exports accounted for about 45 percent of Germany’s economic output, which, according to the statistics from the International Monetary Fund’s World Economic Outlook Database, amounted to $3.227 trillion in 2013.

The buoyancy of German economy could be traced to reforms launched by Chancellor Gerhard Schroder between 1998 and 2005 to address unemployment and low average growth in the economy. Today, Germany is experiencing strong growth and low unemployment. The gains of Schroder’s reform were strengthened by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s stimulus and stabilization efforts initiated in 2008 and 2009.

Germany is a leading exporter of high technical products like machinery, vehicles, chemicals, computer and electronic products, electrical equipment, pharmaceuticals, plastic products amongst others. Among the chief export partners of Germany in 2013 were France, United States, United Kingdom, Netherlands, China, Italy, Austria, Switzerland and Belgium.

The United Kingdom was the fourth largest exporters in 2013. The estimated value of its exports was valued at $813.2 billion against the 2012 figure of $801.7 billion. The UK’s major export commodities were manufactured goods, fuels, chemicals, food, beverages and tobacco while its prime export destinations in 2013 were Germany, US, Netherlands, France, Ireland and Belgium.

Although Japan was the fifth largest exporter in 2013, its value of export declined from $776.6 billion in 2012 to $697 billion in 2013. However, Japanese export grew by 23.2 percent when compared to its performance in 2009. Japanese exports accounted for about 15.1% of total Japanese economic output of $4.7 trillion in 2013.

Ten exports that contributed 79.6 percent of Japan’s export were vehicles excluding trains and streetcars, machinery, electronic equipment, optical, technical and medical apparatus.

France emerged as the sixth largest exporter in 2013. Exports from France amounted to $578.6 billion in 2013. This was a marginal increase over the $567.1 billion it achieved in 2012. However, France recorded 24.9 percent increase in its export trade when compared with the level it attained in 2009.

Its top 10 exports accounted for 60.5 percent of France’s exports. These exports include machinery: aircraft and spacecraft: vehicles excluding trains and streetcars, electronic equipment, pharmaceutical products, mineral fuels including oil, plastics, beverages, spirits and vinegar. Germany, Belgium, Italy, Spain, UK, US and Netherlands constituted the major export destinations for France.

France’s economy is still in the woods. Inspite of its ranking among world’s first-eleven exporters, France import of $659.8 billion in 2013 exceeded its export.

Next to France in the league of largest exporters in 2013 was Netherlands, which posted $576.9 billion in exports. It was placed seventh on the table of largest exporting countries in 2013. Sectors that drove Netherland’s exports in 2013 were mineral fuels including oil, machinery, electronic equipment, organic chemicals, plastics, optical, technical and medical apparatus.

South Korea, an export dependent economy, took the eighth position in the list of largest exporters. The estimated value of its export in 2013 was US$559.6 billion. It grew by 53.9 percent since 2009. South Korea demonstrated incredible growth in the past four decades to become a high-tech industrialized economy. This uncommon achievement also stands it out as a good example to third world countries that perennially depend on hand-out from donor nations. Although South Korea’s export focused economy was hit hard by the 2008 global economic downturn, it quickly rebounded in subsequent years to attain 6.3 percent growth in 2010.

Its chief exports in 2013 were made up of semi-conductors, wireless telecommunications equipment, motor vehicles, auto parts, computers, display, home appliances, wire telecommunication equipment, steel, ships and petrochemicals.

Russia, the only predominantly commodity exporter to make the list of world’s first eleven exporters, was the ninth largest exporter in 2013. The value of its export was estimated at $515 billion, which is about 20 percent of the country’s GDP of $2.553 trillion in 2013. Russia’s top 10 exports, which accounted for 73.4% of its global export, were mineral fuels including oil, iron and steel, pearls, gems, precious metals and coins, fertilizers: machinery: wood, aluminium, inorganic chemicals, copper and electronic equipment.

Russia has undergone significant transformation of its economic system from centrally planned to market oriented economy since the collapse of the Soviet Union. However, this transformation did not do enough to make its manufacturing sector competitive on world markets. This has limited its industrial outputs to domestic consumption and accounts for Russia’s dependence on commodity for exports, which makes it vulnerable to boom and bust cycles that follow the volatile swings in global prices and one of the hardest hit by the 2008-09 global economic crisis as oil prices plummeted and the foreign credits that Russian banks and firms relied on dried up. It is feared that Russia’s role in the Ukraine crisis will negatively affect its exports in 2014.

Italy was the tenth largest exporter in 2013. The value of its export was estimated at $474 billion. Its top exports were engineering products, textiles, machinery, automobiles, transport equipment, chemicals, food, beverages and minerals.  Germany, France, China, Russia, Netherlands, Spain and Belgium were its major export markets.

Canada was the last on the table of world first eleven exporters in 2013 with an estimated export value of $458.7 billion. A high-tech industrial society in the trillion-dollar class, Canada resembles the US in its market-oriented economic system, pattern of production and high living standards. The impressive growth of its manufacturing, mining, and service sectors has transformed the nation from a largely rural economy into one primarily industrial and urban. Canada enjoys a substantial trade surplus with the US, which absorbs about three-fourths of Canadian merchandise exports each year.


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