The World's 20 Largest Exporting Countries

China exports more goods than any other country. Editorial credit: Zhao jian kang /
China exports more goods than any other country. Editorial credit: Zhao jian kang /

In 2016, China was by far the world’s leading exporter, exporting goods valued at a total of USD 1,990,000,000,000 in the year. To put this in perspective, consider how much the rest of the top five exporters shipped to international markets in the same year. In second place, the United States exported goods valuing $1,456,000,000,000.. Only China, the U.S., and Germany managed to export more than a trillion US dollars’ worth of goods in 2014, with the rest of our list registering much smaller numbers.

China is the World's Largest Exporter

While China’s explosive economic expansion has been a front-page financial story over the last few decades, China’s economy is not the only one worth noting. Today, more and more of what has long been considered developing economies are seeing rapid commercial development within their own countries and on the international scene alike. Large economies are not always the fastest growing and most developed, as income inequality, political instability, corruption and low levels of per capita gross capita product still can hinder even the largest of markets.

The Chinese government, administering control over an exporting powerhouse with a vast economy, is facing many problems as of late despite continuing Chinese prosperity. The country’s growth has expanded consistently, but China is transitioning into a consumption-based economy, which may change the overall undercurrents of the Chinese economy soon. Despite its economic growth continuing to head in positive directions, China’s per capita income is still below the world average, which can be attributed in part to wealth inequality within the country. Whether China’s economy can become greater and more prosperous still will likely depend upon the Chinese government’s ability to allow, and even facilitate, the public’s ability to prosper economically.

Why Doesn't the United States Export More?

It is no secret that the United States is home to one of, if not the, most important economic markets in the world. The largest exports of the United States are cars, refined petroleum, planes, helicopters, and spacecraft, and pharmaceuticals. Major trading partners include CanadaChina, and Mexico.

The success of the United States economy can be attributed to factors such as a wealth of natural resources, excellent infrastructure, and a productive workforce. The country also has the designation of being the world's largest industrial sector. However, as the cost of living is higher in the United States than China, many goods cannot be produced in the United States for a price comparable to their production costs in China. This is one of the reasons why the United States lags behind China when it comes to export volume.


Third on the list of the world's top exporters is the central European nation of Germany, which is also home to one of the world's largest economies. in 2016, the goods exported from Germany had a value of around 1.5 trillion US dollars. Like the United States, Germany also has an extremely busy manufacturing sector. The most commonly exported goods from Germany include automobiles, machinery, chemicals, electronics, electrical equipment, and pharmaceuticals. Furthermore, several Fortune Global 2000 companies are headquartered in the country. Some of the most notable companies include Volkswagen, Daimler, BMW, and Bayer.


Japan, in East Asia, exported around $634,900,000,000 worth of goods in 2016. This puts Japan in the fourth position on the list of the world's largest exporters. The major exports of Japan include automobiles, vehicle parts, integrated circuits, and industrial printers. Japan is the world's third-largest manufacturer of automobiles. Like Germany, several Fortune Global 500 companies are headquartered in Japan. The largest of these is car manufacturer Toyota.

South Korea

Also located in East Asia, South Korea exported $511,800,000,000 worth of goods in 2016, the world's fifth-largest volume. The country is known for its astonishing jump from developing to a developed economy, and its large economy is still growing. As South Korea has relatively few natural resources, the country is reliant on an export-driven economy. The most frequently exported goods include semiconductors, wireless communication devices, automobiles, computers, ships, and petrochemicals. Its largest export partners are China, the United States, and Japan.

Exports By Country

RankCountryExports in US Dollars
2United States1,456,000,000,000
5South Korea511,800,000,000
7Hong Kong502,500,000,000
10United Kingdom407,300,000,000
16United Arab Emirates298,600,000,000

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