The EU’s position in world trade in figures (infographic)

Find key figures about the EU’s trade with the world in our infographic: exports, imports, number of related jobs in the EU and more.

Infographic showing global exports and imports in goods in 2019
Exports and imports on a global scale

The EU has always been about promoting trade: not only by removing barriers to trade between EU countries, but also by encouraging other countries to trade with the EU. In 2021, EU exports of goods represented 15% of global exports and EU imports of goods 14%, making it one of the world’s biggest trade players alongside the US and China.

Trade agreements

The EU currently has about 130 trade agreements in place, pending or in the process of being adopted or negotiated.

Trade agreements are not only an opportunity to reduce tariffs, but also to get our partners to recognise EU quality and safety standards, and to respect products with a protected designation of origin, such as champagne or Roquefort cheese. This is very important as European food products enjoy a worldwide reputation for excellence and tradition.

Infographic on the state of EU trade agreements which shows: 77 trade agreements in place, 24 pending, 24 being adopted or ratified, 5 being negotiated
Find out about EU trade agreements in our infographic

The EU also uses trade agreements to set standards for environment and labour, for example to avoid the importation of products produced using child labour.

The latest EU trade agreement signed was with Vietnam in 2020, which the Parliament adopted in February 2020, but many others are being negotiated. In addition, in April 2021, the Parliament approved the EU-UK trade and cooperation agreement.

EU imports and exports

Infographic on the volume of EU exports and imports of goods
Infographic on EU imports and export of goods in 2020

European firms not only benefit from economies of scale that being part of the world’s largest single market entail, but also from trade agreements that enable EU enterprises to export many of their services and goods. At the same time foreign firms wanting to export to the EU have to meet the same high standards as local firms so there is no risk of unfair competition by non-EU companies cutting corners.

In 2022 the EU had a €432 billion trade deficit in goods, mainly due to the steep increase of energy prices. However, the situation has been improving. The trade deficit decreased from €150 billion in the third quarter of 2022 to €78 billion in the fourth quarter of 2022 and to €2 billion in the first quarter of 2023. The main EU partner for exports in 2022 was the United States and for imports China.

The United States remained the most common destination for goods exported from the EU in 2022 with a share of 20%. The United Kingdom was the second largest destination for EU exports (13% of the EU total), followed by China (9%).

Infographic showing where EU countries export to
Infographic: EU countries’ exports

Trade with non-EU countries has led to the creation of millions of jobs in Europe. The European Commission estimated that in 2017about 36 million jobs were linked to trade with non-EU countries. Being in the same single market has also led to more trade between EU countries.

In addition the import of goods and services from outside the EU has forced European companies to be more competitive, while offering consumers more choice and lower prices. One fifth of the export-supported jobs are located in a different member state than the one exporting.

Check out our interactive map: how many jobs are supported by exports in your country?

Infographic on the number of jobs supported by exported to non-EU countries. Figures range from 6,800,000 in Germany to 19,000 in Malta
Infographic on the number of EU jobs linked to trade