EU chemicals trade surplus rose to EUR 178 billion in 2020

Over the last decade, the EU trade surplus in chemicals with non-EU countries increased from EUR 88 billion in 2010 to EUR 178 billion in 2020. This is equivalent to an average annual growth of 7 %.

Last year, chemicals worth almost EUR 233 billion were imported to the EU, representing a EUR 79 billion increase since 2010. Except for 2013 and 2020, chemical imports increased every year over the 10-year period. The average annual growth over the whole period was 4 %.

EU chemical exports were significantly higher than imports, steadily increasing from EUR 242 billion in 2010 to EUR  411 billion in 2020. The average annual growth of exports over this period was 5 %.

Among the EU countries, Germany was the largest extra-EU exporter of chemicals in 2020 (EUR 105 billion). Germany was followed by Ireland (EUR 55 billion exports), Belgium (EUR 51 billion exports) and France (EUR 45 billion exports).

In 2020, the EU exported EUR 51 billion and EUR 50 billion worth of chemicals to Switzerland and the United States, respectively, making them the leading extra-EU export destinations of EU chemicals.

Next on the list of top export destinations were the United Kingdom with EUR 33 billion worth of chemicals and China with EUR 21 billion.

The EU had a trade surplus with eight of the ten largest trade partners, with the United States (EUR 61 billion), Russia (EUR 13 billion) and the United Kingdom (EUR 11 billion) on the lead.

For more information:

  • Statistics Explained article on Production and international trade in chemicals
  • Statistics Explained article on Extra-EU trade in goods and Extra-EU trade in manufactured goods
  • Database of statistics on international trade in goods
  • Overview of statistics on international trade in goods
  • Database of statistics on the production of manufactured goods (Prodcom)
  • Overview of statistics on the production of manufactured goods (Prodcom)
  • 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 transition period (31 December 2020), meaning that data on trade with the United Kingdom were 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.